The Role of Localism in Constitutional Change: A Case Study
30 The Journal of Law & Politics (2014) 53-95
43 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2017
Date Written: 2014
This Article investigates the role local governments have played in bringing about constitutional change in the area of gay rights. Localities are conventionally framed either as administrative agents that implement state and federal norms or as creators of local regulation, the effect of which is strictly limited to the local territory. Conventional images of constitutional law accordingly assume that the competences of local governments are too limited to influence constitutional change. I take issue with this assumption and illustrate that localities can be generators of important legal norms that transcend the local territory. By acting through legal, rather than purely political means, the performative nature of local regulation influences state and federal law in a constitutional order characterized by polycentricity and porosity. As such, municipal policies have been one of many driving forces behind the significant changes in gay rights at the state and federal levels over the past years.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation