• LSSC Legal Resources

    Legal Resources

The increased use of preemption has created a demand for legal strategies and research, and resources, including direct technical assistance to help local governments and advocates. To meet these needs, the LSSC serves as a centralized legal resource center providing legal support – through legal research, technical assistance, legal referrals, amicus briefs and other tools, and education – to local officials, advocates, and the field to counter a range of preemption of issues at the local level.

To accomplish this work, the LSSC works with a coalition of legal scholars and advocates who are researching and refining legal strategies and creating resources to protect the authority and power of cities to enact inclusive, innovative, and equitable laws.

The team’s research and outline of legal strategies to fight or repeal preemption and strengthen home rule can be found at:

Fordham’s Urban Law Center


A Better Balance’s Defending Local Democracy Project

View and download a one page PDF that explains who we are and provides links to resources about preemption.

LSSC Legal Efforts and Resources

Specifically, right now the LSSC serves as a legal resource center on preemption. It:

Technical Assistance

Receives and responds to technical assistance requests from city attorneys, advocates, and policymakers across the country—whether by providing support from A Better Balance or drawing upon and coordinating assistance from the network of law school professor experts and their students, or connecting requests to a growing referral network.

Legal Research

Uses legal research to expand on and develop new theories that can be used to fight preemption, especially in response to new threats and forms of preemption.

Legal Tools

Develops useful new legal tools, amicus and issue briefs, and resources for allies that serve multiple purposes, such as synthesizing LSSC’s legal research (including research from LSSC’s professor partners), disseminating helpful legal information that informs legal work—proactive and defensive—on preemption, and raising public awareness and understanding of preemption.

To inquire about technical assistance on preemption issues:

Contact Dilini Lankachandra at A Better Balance
via this contact form or
call 212-430-5989

In addition, the LSSC is committed to raising awareness about the threat of preemption and its negative consequences for local democracy. It is meeting this goal by establishing and providing quarterly briefings for a peer-to-peer network for city attorneys, webinars and in-person briefings, publication of legal articles, and limited media outreach.

City Attorneys Network

The National League of Cities (NLC), the Urban Law Center at Fordham Law School, A Better Balance, and other partners have worked to build and facilitate a city attorney peer network on preemption that connects quarterly –either by phone or at regional in-person meetings. The LSSC will be sponsoring three regional city attorney meetings in 2018.

Webinars and Briefings

The legal team – collectively and individually – sponsored or participated in close to 30 webinars, conferences, and speaking engagements in 2017 that provided the opportunity to raise awareness about preemption, disseminate tools, and share new research and strategies with attorneys, advocacy organizations and policymakers. Audiences included state and municipal lawmakers, law schools, funders and organizations ranging from the American Constitution Society to the American Heart Association. LSSC attorneys and advocates have close to 20 webinars and presentations scheduled for the first four months of 2018, including law school presentations, briefings for city attorneys and mayors with the National League of Cities, and talks at advocate and funder meetings.

Legal Essays & Articles

The legal team, headed by Nestor Davidson at Fordham was requested to submit an issue brief on preemption to the American Constitution Society. The brief, The Troubling Turn in State Preemption: The Assault on Progressive Cities and How Cities Can Respond, was published and reached more than 200 student and lawyer chapters in 48 states and almost every law school.

The Troubling Turn in State Preemption

The Challenge of New Preemption, Richard Briffault, published by Stanford Law Review, June 2018

The Attack on American Cities, Richard Schragger, Texas Law Review Summer  2018).

The Legal Team Includes:

Richard Briffault

Columbia University School of Law

Richard Briffault is the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School. His research, writing, and teaching focus on state and local government law, legislation, the law of the political process, government ethics, and property.

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Richard Briffault, Columbia Law School

Nestor Davidson

Fordham University School of Law and Urban Law Center

Nestor Davidson joined Fordham in 2011 and was named the Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law in 2017. Professor Davidson is an expert in property, urban law, and affordable housing law and policy, and is the co-author of the casebook Property Law: Rules, Policies and Practices (7th ed. 2017). Professor Davidson founded and serves as the faculty director of the law school’s Urban Law Center and previously served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

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Nestor Davidson, Fordham University School of Law and Urban Law Center

Paul A. Diller

Willamette University College of Law

Professor Diller’s professional work focuses on the legal structures, including federalism and gerrymandering, that constrain or empower local policymaking. Recent scholarship examines how local lawmaking can help remedy the urban disadvantage in representation at the federal and state levels. Other recent work addresses the unique potential of cities to spur regulatory change, particularly with respect to protecting the public health. Diller has directed Willamette Law’s Certificate Program in Law and Government since 2014.

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Paul A. Diller, Willamette University College of Law

Olatunde Johnson

Columbia University School of Law

Olatunde Johnson is the Jerome B. Sherman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches legislation and civil procedure and writes about modern civil rights legislation, congressional power, and innovations to address discrimination and inequality in the United States.

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Olatunde Johnson, Columbia University School of Law

Laurie Reynolds

University of Illinois College of Law

Laurie Reynolds is the Prentice H. Marshall Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois. She received a master’s degree in Spanish linguistics and a JD degree summa cum laude from the University of Illinois, where she was editor-in-chief of the Illinois Law Forum (law review). Before joining the faculty in 1982, she practiced with Jenner & Block in Chicago.

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Laurie Reynolds, University of Illinois College of Law

Erin Scharff

Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Erin Adele Scharff writes about tax policy and tax federalism. Prior to joining the faculty of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Professor Scharff was an acting assistant professor of tax law at New York University School of Law. After graduating magna cum laude from New York University School of Law, she clerked for the Honorable William A. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. In law school, she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, a Furman Academic Scholar, and an articles editor for the NYU Law Review.

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Erin Scharff, Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Richard Schragger

University of Virginia, School of Law

Rich Schragger joined the Virginia faculty in 2001 and was named the Perre Bowen Professor in 2013. His scholarship focuses on the intersection of constitutional law and local government law, federalism, urban policy and the constitutional and economic status of cities. He also writes about law and religion. He has authored articles on the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, the role of cities in a federal system, local recognition of same-sex marriage, takings law and economic development, and the history of the anti-chain store movement. Schragger has published in the Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Virginia, and Michigan law reviews, among others. He teaches property, local government law, urban law and policy, and church and state.

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Richard Schragger, University of Virginia School of Law

Rick Su

University at Buffalo School of Law

Rick Su received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 2001 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2004. Before joining the faculty at the University at Buffalo School of Law in 2007, he clerked for Hon. Stephen Reinhardt on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and worked in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2009 and 2015 Su received the faculty teaching award from the graduating class. He was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in 2015 and will be a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in 2018.

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Rick Su, University at Buffalo School of Law
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