Topic list for final exam
• Concept about the nature of local government powers (or “municipal
corporations”) from John F. Dillon, scholar and judge, circa 1872. Whereas states
may be seen as having powers beyond those listed in the US constitution, local
governments have only those powers explicitly granted to them by a state. Cities,
counties, school districts, and “special districts” are thus legal entities created by
• AKA The ability of the states to determine local government structures.
• Mayor-council government – (more powerful mayor)
o Mayor is directly elected and has voiced levels of formal power.
o In this case, the mayor has chief powers.
• Council-manager government
o Council hires a professional administrator (city manager) to implement its
policies… They do not get elected.
▪ They can hire and fire city employees, and prepare the budget.
o Has a weak mostly ceremonial mayor
o Most cities have this form today
o In this case, the city manager has chief powers.
• Progressive era reformers 1900-1920
• Progressive era pushed for non-partisan elections
• This came about to clean up the government. This era was in response to the
Urban Political machines.
• 1883 Pendleton act required that a certain % of government must have merit. It
then trickled to state/local government.
• This made it more difficult for politicians to place their supporter’s in federal
• This reading is about how people tend to vote with their feet.
o The consumer-voter moves to the community whose local government
best satisfies his set of preferences
o Voters move from the public goods that they find most appealing
▪ “the availability and quality of such facilities and services beaches,
parks, police, protection, roads, and parking facilities will enter
into the decision-making process” • it assumes no restrictions due to employment, and sufficient variance between
Urban political machines
• Grew out of industrialization, immigration, and urbanization
• Maintained control of cities by organizing neighborhoods to deliver votes on
• They manipulated people by having client parties- providing personal favors in
exchange for votes
o Voting isn’t a secret
• ^^^All of the above made this a corrupt system ^^^
• Added illicit businesses, may have helped local economic growth
• Came to and end in the early 1900’s
o Immigrants began to be less reliant
o Organized labor competed with machines
o Federal government became more active in meeting needs (Great
Types of law addressed by the court
• Civil law
o deals with lawsuits brought by individuals or the government against other
individuals, organizations or companies.
o Non-criminal legal conflicts between people, corporations, or
▪ Plaintiff tries to get the defendant to redress jury (can be over
money, contracts, etc.)
• Criminal Law
o state or federal prosecutors bring a case against a person charged with a
major crime, called a felony.
o Government persecuting a person for violating a criminal statute.
• A court in which issues of fact and law are tried and determined for a legal case.
o This is the first court. After this comes the appellate courts.
• Establish the facts of a case and apply them
• They try to resolve disputes between two parties through neutral adjudication.
Intermediate appellate courts
• These courts evaluate and question the fairness of the trial that took place.
o They have nothing to do with the actual facts of the case.
o As a check to ensure the trial courts are carried out fairly
o There is no jury, only a judge.
o 40 states have this court.
Methods of judicial selection
• Legislative appointment – appointed by legislature • Gubernatorial appointment – appointed by governor
• Partisan elections – voted on as part of a political party’s slate of candidates
• Merit plan (most common) – chosen by legislative committee based on past
o Most widely used (16 states)
o 3 steps
▪ 1. nominating commission evaluates potential judges
▪ 2. Governor appoints one
▪ 3. After a probationary term, this judge faces a retention election
• Abstract: Judicial elections in the American states became considerably more
complicated with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Republican Party of
Minnesota v White. That ruling extended free speech rights to candidates for
judicial office, allowing them the freedom to announce their views on a variety of
political and legal issues. Coupled with growing campaign contributions by
interest groups and the increasing prevalence of attack ads, state judicial elections
now often appear to be little different from ordinary political elections. This has
caused many to worry about the legitimacy of elected state courts inasmuch as
their perceived impartiality appears to be at risk from campaign activity.
• (Ruling: announce clause violates 1 amendment)
• Intro: The purpose of this article is to carefully consider how campaign activity
by judges influences the legitimacy of state courts. Based on a representative
national survey conducted in 2007, this analysis uses experimental methods to
discern how specific types of campaign behavior shape the legitimacy the public
accords state supreme courts. Specifically, I investigate the influence on perceived
impartiality of three types of campaign activity:
o the use of attack ads
o the acceptance of campaign contributions
o the announcement of policy positions by candidates for judicial office
Findings: accepting campaign contributions significantly detracts from the legitimacy of
- policy positions have little effect
- attack ads are harmful to the legitimacy of legislative institutions, but no effect
on the judicial institutions – disconfirms that announcing will threaten the
legitimacy of the institution
Collective action problem
• When everyone benefits from the actions of a group. There is no way to stop
those who don’t help from gaining benefits. No one has an economic incentive to
contribute individually. What is federalism
• Federalism: structural relationship between national government and states
• Types of federalism:
o Unitary systems: centralized power
o Confederal system: bulk of power from state constitutions
• Marble cake federalism: mixing of authority between national and state
government (US now)
• Layer cake federalism: clear distinction between power of national government
and state government (early US).
• Confederal system: easier to move around (vote w your feet)
• Cooperative: national and subnational gov’ts are sovereign within their own
• Dual: subnational and national share responsibilities
Functions of the legislature
• The legislature makes the laws and makes sure that they are being enforced. They
are not technically the people who enforce them, however.
• They also represent the state.
• Oversee implementation
Shipan and Volden (2009)
• Policy diffusion: the spread of innovation from one government to another
• 4 mechanisms of policy diffusion
o economic competition
• look at why policy innovation spreads between governments and look at
advantages and disadvantages of the different mechanisms
• learning: simplifying the task of finding a solution by choosing an alternative that
has proven successful elsewhere
o hypothesis: more likely to occur when the same policy is adopted by other
cities throughout the state