Class Ten -- January 15, 2016 new | Howell E. Jackson | August 19, 2015


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Class Ten -- January 15, 2016 new

Original Creator: Howell E. Jackson Current Version: Howell E. Jackson Show/Hide

Today we consider the role of the judiciary in the budgetary process.

We will first discuss the ability of courts to intervene in the budgetary process, including the threshold question of which parties have standing to challenge budget decisions, and the role of the “political question” doctrine. A student briefing paper on the role of the standing and political question doctrines in budget jurisprudence is included as reference.

Then, we will consider the courts' authority to direct the budget decisions of state and local governments. Please read the selection from Missouri v. Jenkins (1990) (“Jenkins II”). As part of the process of court-ordered desegregation of the Kansas City, Missouri school system, a federal district court in Missouri ordered a local tax increase in order to fund the costs of desegregation. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the district court could not raise taxes directly, but court order to local government to do so; Justice Kennedy authored a fervent dissent that claimed that the majority's decision violated federalism and separation-of-powers principles. The desegregation saga in Kansas City went on: Five years later, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to a federal district court's order, which had directed the State of Missouri to raise teacher salaries and fund remedial programs as part of the same desegregation process (“Jenkins III”). Another 5-4 decision resulted, but this time, the Court held that courts do not have the authority to order such spending increases. The text Jenkins III is included below as background.

Team Assignment (Teams DH): Please write a short memorandum (3-5 pages) considering whether the Supreme Court’s decision in the two Missouri v. Jenkins cases are consistent or inconsistent.

Finally, we will discuss recent litigation regarding the budget of the District of Columbia. Congress still has oversight over Washington, DC's local budget, but in a 2012 referendum, DC voters overwhelmingly approved a “budget autonomy” law. Please read the brief materials on the DC litigation below; the district court's decision explains the history of Congress' oversight of the DC budget and the District's efforts to increase local control of budget decisions.


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January 09, 2016

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Howell E. Jackson

James S. Reid, Jr. Professor of Law

Harvard University

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