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Overton Park is a 342-acre municipal park lying close to downtown Memphis, Tennessee, in one of that city's better residential areas. Citizens to Preserve Overton Park, Inc. v. Volpe is a Supreme Court decision frequently cited for its general propositions about judicial review of informal administrative action that, to the citizens of Memphis, was one way-station in a more than two-decade struggle concerning whether and where an inner-city expressway, part of Interstate 40, would be built. Overall, the story of that struggle reveals a complex brew of national and local politics about the marriage of highway convenience to urban amenity; but the direct concern of the decision itself is "law," interpreting a statute governing the decisions of federal highway officials about the location and design of interstate highways that might affect parks. At a time when the very idea that politics and law have separate domains is controversial, revisiting Overton Park may be instructive about judicial attitudes toward politics and political controls, and about the impact of judicial skepticism in that regard.


Administrative Law | Law


This article was originally published in UCLA Law Review.