Gerald E. Frug

Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law

Hauser 402

617-495-3019

Assistant: Kathy Goldstein / 617-496-4183

Biography

Gerald Frug is the Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Educated at the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Law School, he worked as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C., and as Health Services Administrator of the City of New York before he began teaching in 1974 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1981. Professor Frug’s specialty is local government law, a subject he has taught for more than thirty years. He has published dozens of articles on the topic and is the author, among other works, of a casebook -- Local Government Law (5th edition 2009, with David Barron and Richard T. Ford) – and two other books: City Bound: How States Stifle Urban Innovation (Cornell University Press 2008, with David Barron), and City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls (Princeton University Press 1999).

Professor Frug’s work has focused on local government issues both in the United States and around the world. In the United States, he has written about specific cities (such as Boston and New York) and on topics that affect the United States generally (such as regionalism and city power). Colleagues who teach and write about urban studies from other disciplines at Harvard and elsewhere – in particular, at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and the London School of Economics – have been an important influence on this work. Outside the United States, he was one of the originators of a series of conferences, called Urban Age, administered by the London School of Economics. These conferences have brought together academic and local officials whose work focuses on the cities where the conferences take place. Cities involved have included Shanghai, Mexico City, Mumbai, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, and London. Professor Frug has also lectured widely on his own, including as the James Stirling Memorial Lecturer on the City in Montreal and London in 2010-2011.

In addition to teaching local government law, Professor Frug has frequently offered a seminar, called Green New York, co-taught with attorneys from the Law Department of the City of New York and Professor David Barron, which explores the legal problems facing the environmental agenda of the New York City government. Other seminars he has taught have covered a wide range of topics, ranging from Tocqueville to Postmodern Legal Theory to Comparative Local Government Law. And, by no means least, he has taught Contracts virtually every year since the beginning of his teaching career.

Areas of Interest

Gerald E. Frug, Richard Ford & David J. Barron, Local Government Law: Cases and Materials (West Acad. Publ'g 6th ed. 2015).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Abstract
This law school casebook focuses on the advantages and difficulties involved in decentralizing power to cities (the city-state and city-federal relationships), the city-suburb divide (including the topics of sprawl and regionalism), and the structure of city government itself (issues like raising revenue, service delivery, economic development, and voting). The casebook combines case law with extensive excerpts from the urban studies literature, including history, political science, sociology, and planning. The new edition will update existing topics and will add material on important new issues, most notably state receivership and municipal bankruptcy. It will also include readings on international local government law.
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, City Bound: How States Stifle Urban Innovation (Cornell Univ. Press 2008).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
,
Politics & Political Theory
Type: Book
Abstract
Many major American cities are defying the conventional wisdom that suburbs are the communities of the future. But as these urban centers prosper, they increasingly confront significant constraints. In City Bound, Gerald E. Frug and David J. Barron address these limits in a new way. Based on a study of the differing legal structures of Boston, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle, City Bound explores how state law determines what cities can and cannot do to raise revenue, control land use, and improve city schools. Frug and Barron show that state law can make it much easier for cities to pursue a global-city or a tourist-city agenda than to respond to the needs of middle-class residents or to pursue regional alliances. But they also explain that state law is often so outdated, and so rooted in an unjustified distrust of local decision making, that the legal process makes it hard for successful cities to develop and implement any coherent vision of their future. Their book calls not for local autonomy but for a new structure of state-local relations that would enable cities to take the lead in charting the future course of urban development. It should be of interest to everyone who cares about the future of American cities, whether political scientists, planners, architects, lawyers, or simply citizens.
Gerald E. Frug, City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls (Princeton Univ. Press 1999).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Abstract
American metropolitan areas today are divided into neighborhoods of privilege and poverty, often along lines of ethnicity and race. City residents traveling through these neighborhoods move from feeling at home to feeling like tourists to feeling so out of place they fear for their security. As Gerald Frug shows, this divided and inhospitable urban landscape is not simply the result of individual choices about where to live or start a business. It is the product of government policies--and, in particular, the policies embedded in legal rules. A Harvard law professor and leading expert on urban affairs, Frug presents the first-ever analysis of how legal rules shape modern cities and outlines a set of alternatives to bring down the walls that now keep city dwellers apart. Frug begins by describing how American law treats cities as subdivisions of states and shows how this arrangement has encouraged the separation of metropolitan residents into different, sometimes hostile groups. He explains in clear, accessible language the divisive impact of rules about zoning, redevelopment, land use, and the organization of such city services as education and policing. He pays special attention to the underlying role of anxiety about strangers, the widespread desire for good schools, and the pervasive fear of crime. Ultimately, Frug calls for replacing the current legal definition of cities with an alternative based on what he calls "community building"--an alternative that gives cities within the same metropolitan region incentives to forge closer links with each other.
Gerald E. Frug, The City: Private or Public? (LSE Cities Working Papers, Mar. 13, 2017).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
This article analyzes the privatization of city governments in the United States. The focus is not on the contracting out of city services or the selling of city property to the private sector. The focus instead is on the conceptual,financial, and structural privatization of city governments themselves. The article describes this privatization by focusing on three aspects of city governance: city services, economic development, and the design of the city population. It presents two contrasting ways to conceptualize and structure these city functions, one embraced by the private city and the other by the public city. By doing so, it seeks to emphasize the different kinds of choices facing state governments when they empower and disempower city governments and to suggest what is at stake, both for individuals and American society as a whole, when these choices are made.
Gerald Frug, Introduction: Mary Joe Frug, 50 New Eng. L. Rev. 273 (2016).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Feminist Legal Theory
,
Biography & Tribute
,
Legal Scholarship
Type: Article
Abstract
Introduction to the New England Law Review, Mary Joe Frug Memorial Symposium.
Gerald E. Frug, Six Proposals For the Urban Research Agenda, 36 J. Urb. Aff. 551 (2014).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
The problems facing cities around the world are intense and, all too often, unaddressed. Some of this attention deficit disorder needs to remedied by political decision-makers. But scholars can help. We need to think about concrete issues in a way that is simultaneously theoretical and practical. Suggesting such a combination has become commonplace—a slogan, really. This essay suggests six examples of what such a research agenda might include. These examples offer no more than a beginning of the list of topics that need attention. But hopefully it suggests a way to approach other aspects of our future research as well.
Gerald E. Frug, The Central-Local Relationship 25 Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 1 (2014).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
There are three common ideas about how to organize the city-state-federal relationship. All three, I think, are misguided. The first seeks to consolidate power in a centralized government-sometimes at the national level, but more often at the state or regional level. The second is the opposite idea: it seeks to empower city governments by giving them autonomy to make their own decisions about the policies that shape their future. The third seeks a middle course, dividing the functions of government into different categories, with each level of government having jurisdiction over some, but not all, of the categories. After sketching what is wrong with these three ideas, I will offer a different approach.
Gerald E. Frug, Law and Uncertainty: A Comment on Karl-Heinz Ladeur, 12 German L.J. 548 (2011).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Critical Legal Studies
,
Legal Theory & Philosophy
Type: Article
Abstract
In his insightful article, From Universalistic Law to the Law of Uncertainty, Karl-Heinz Ladeur addresses a hotly debated issue within the American critical legal studies movement. What would be the effect on our understanding of the nature of law, he asks, if we really accepted the post-modernist claim that neither social reality nor our conception of the self has a fixed or determinate meaning? In the United States, the issue Professor Ladeur discusses is usually presented as an argument about the role of post-structuralism or deconstruction in a critical legal analysis. Do these ways of interpreting law, it is asked, go too far in asserting the openness of the legal system and thereby erode the political impact of critical legal theory?
Gerald E. Frug, Voting and Justice, in Justice and the American Metropolis 201 (Clarissa Rile Hayward & Todd Swanstrom eds., 2011).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Elections & Voting
,
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Abstract
This chapter argues that injustice in the twenty-first-century metropolis is mainly the product of our legal and institutional framework. Voting laws enable some citizens to make decisions that greatly affect other citizens, who have no political voice or effect. Determining who is eligible to vote for local elected officials is a key component of the organization of local decision making. Sometimes nonresidents are allowed to vote—but sometimes they are not. If the rules that determine the local electorate were changed, then a very different group of people would be able to influence the decisions that local officials make about matters such as zoning, education, and police behavior. Thus, changing these rules has the potential to alter the relationship between social justice and city police.
Gerald E. Frug, A "Rule of Law" for Cities, 10 Hagar 63 (2010).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
This essay focuses on one aspect of the relationship between law and space: the idea that cities be governed by the rule of law. The core value of the rule of law, it is suggested, is the need to restrain the exercise of arbitrary power-to protect the weak from the strong. Two different kinds of neighborhoods are analyzed to expose the current difficulties in establishing the rule of law in this sense: neighborhoods dominated by informal housing, and neighborhoods dominated by economic development aimed at the goal of becoming a global city. To address the current difficulties facing the establishment of the rule of law in these neighborhoods, the essay proposes institutional reforms designed to enable a reinvigorated local democracy that strengthens the current legal system.
Gerald E. Frug, The Seductions of Form, 3 Drexel L. Rev. 11 (2010).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
Philadelphia has more than a dozen business improvement districts, entities commonly called BIDs.' The papers in this Symposium describe each of them in some detail. This kind of study is both valuable and unusual. Although BIDs have been subject to academic analysis in general terms,2 this Symposium offers the first examination that I know of the different BIDs within a single city. It thereby enables a comparative view within one legal system of what a BID is and what it does. My focus here will concentrate on one question concerning Philadelphia's BIDs: in creating these kinds of institutions, whom exactly has the legal system authorized to tap precisely what kinds of resources to do what? As I argue below, Philadelphia's BIDs offer a wide variety of answers to each of the elements in this question. These differences generate for me a puzzle—why have so many different neighborhoods adopted the same legal form to accomplish such different objectives? I turn to this puzzle below, after I examine the differences among Philadelphia's BIDs.
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, City Limits, Bos. Globe, Feb, 25, 2007 at E1.
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: News
Abstract
Imagine if Boston had only one revenue source: a tax on shopping mall sales. You know what would happen. The city would do everything it could to attract shopping malls in order to pay for schools, police, fire services, and everything else. It wouldn't matter whether the city actually wanted more shopping malls. Shopping malls would have to be encouraged, and the mall tax would influence every facet of city policy. Zoning officials would be attentive to the concerns of mall developers. Transportation policy would focus on the needs of suburban consumers. Requests for security near Bloomingdale's would influence the allocation of police patrols. And residents seeking bonds for low-cost housing or protection against crime in city parks would have a hard time getting heard. These differences matter. Current economic forces reward cities with the ability to respond creatively and flexibly to fast-changing conditions. Urban centers that can't pursue cutting-edge economic development strategies, or respond boldly to the special challenges urban success may bring, risk slipping slowly but surely behind their competitors. Boston's ability to compete in an increasingly globalized market for urban economic development is directly connected to the state's willingness to loosen the reigns of power. Thanks to private innovation, public sector investments, and a good deal of luck, Boston has managed to succeed despite its highly constrained legal structure. But there are troubling signs on the horizon. Again and again, our study found that other cities are using their legal powers to capitalize on their recent successes in ways that Boston cannot. Chicago completed its widely praised Millennium Park with a degree of independence that, as the interminable debates over control of the Rose Kennedy Greenway demonstrate, Boston can only marvel at. Denver has relied on its home rule powers to contain spiraling municipal employment costs in ways that Massachusetts precludes Boston from doing.
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, Boston Bound: A Comparison of Boston’s Legal Powers With Those of Six Other Major American Cities (Bos. Found. 2007).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, International Local Government Law, 38 Urb. Law. 1 (2006).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
,
International Law
Type: Article
Abstract
Domestic policies and domestic legal rules largely determine the legal status of cities, and these rules have a major influence on both the experience of city life and the practice of local self-government. Today, this traditional way of creating local government law is changing. Parties negotiating international trade agreements, international tribunals arbitrating commercial disputes, United Nations' rapporteurs investigating compliance with human rights obligations, and international financial institutions formulating development policy are expressing interest in the legal relationship between cities and their national governments. This new development is examined by way of three goals. First, it is demonstrated that a focus on international local government differs from other ways in which scholars have begun to think about cities and their place in the world. It is explained that the study of international local government law emphasizes cities' roles as simultaneously subordinate domestic governments and independent international actors. Second, the topic of international local government law is introduced into the field of international law. Focus is on decisions by international arbitration tribunals regulating cities' ability to control land use development. Finally, an analytic framework for evaluating the content of international local government law at this initial stage of its development is proposed.
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, Make Eminent Domain Fair for All, Bos. Globe, Aug. 12, 2005, Op-Ed.
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
,
Eminent Domain
,
Property Rights
Type: News
David J. Barron & Gerald E. Frug, Defensive Localism: A View of the Field from the Field, 21 J.L. & Pol. 261 (2005).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
Proponents of regionalism usually blame the recognition of local autonomy, otherwise known as "home rule," for familiar metropolitan problems - housing segregation, the stark divide between rich and poor communities, environmentally destructive sprawl. They say that states have enabled municipalities to act like independent sovereigns and that selfish local policymaking has led to problematic growth in virtually every metropolitan area. Regionalists argue, therefore, that in order to stop individual municipalities from pursuing parochial ends, power must be shifted upwards - if not entirely, then substantially. But regionalists doubt this shift will occur. Why, they wonder, would local communities favor dismantling such an empowering legal structure? We offer a different view. We do not think that local governments have anything like autonomy. Even states that have formal home rule structures place significant limits on local policymaking, and greater-than-local forces exert significant pressure on local choices. It seems implausible, therefore, that local actors understand themselves to be autonomous in any meaningful way. The form of local power most cities and towns possess grants them only limited authority. It is this condition of having limited power - rather than of being autonomous - that underlies the wariness towards regionalism. This condition encourages an insular and defensive mindset that makes regionalism an unattractive risk. The parochialism that regionalists rightly wish to check, therefore, is as much a consequence of the constraints that cities and towns confront as of the powers they possess. This suggests that "defensive localism" - the defense of local power in order to preserve the status quo - rather than "local autonomy" best describes the current form of local power. We find empirical support for this alternative account in a study we recently conducted on home rule in metropolitan Boston. Our research plan was simple. We first mapped the powers that Massachusetts permits local governments to exercise. We then interviewed local officials from the 101 cities and towns located within Boston's metropolitan area. We asked two types of questions: Did the legal structure of local power in Massachusetts confer home rule in the "local autonomy" sense? And, did the local official think regionalism presented an attractive solution to the problems of their community or the region as a whole?
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, Making Planning Matter: A New Approach to Eminent Domain, Harv. Design Mag., Spring/Summer 2005, at 71.
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Property Law
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Fifth Amendment
,
State & Local Government
,
Eminent Domain
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
Abstract
Discusses changing legal responses to eminent domain policies in urban planning. The authors detail recent cases in Illinois and Mesa, Arizona where a court ruled a planning authority's plans to redevelop urban areas as unconstitutional, focus on the legal decisions surrounding the planned expansion of the Metropolitan Airport in Wayne County, and note that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering constitutional reform for eminent domain in the coming year. They highlight the importance of treating eminent domain on a case-by-case basis, suggest how differing definitions of public use complicate the legal response to eminent domain policies, and argues for the importance of effective municipal planning.
David J. Barron, Gerald E. Frug & Rick Su, Dispelling the Myth of Home Rule: Local Power in Greater Boston (Rappaport Inst. 2004).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Abstract
Home rule lurks behind every important concern of Greater Boston. Local policies on a wide variety of issues – finance and management, land use, housing, and education – depend on the state grant of home rule. But real local authority in Massachusetts is restricted. Cities and towns have little discretion over taxes, fees, and borrowing, and only fragmented control over their public schools. State government imposes a number of unfunded mandates. State law supersedes local law on all issues, forcing localities to seek special state legislation on matters of immediate concern. Based on interviews with local officials in the 101 towns and cities that make up Greater Boston, the study by David Barron, Gerald Frug, and Rick Su argues one way to open up the possibilities for regional policy is to take the local desire for home rule more seriously. This important work provides a much-needed blueprint to the most fundamental issue of state and local governance in Massachusetts.
David J. Barron & Gerald E. Frug, After 9/11: Cities, 34 Urb. Law. 583 (2002).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
Do the horrifying terrorist attacks of September 11 signal a new era of anti-urbanism? The question might, on first inspection, seem absurd. Cities have been bombed before and survived. They have been leveled and conquered and they have endured. Cities have even thrived in the wake of the devastation wrought upon them. The reasons that cities grow or shrink, in the end, are simply too variegated to be traced to a single casual factor. Thus, we would not be inclined to take seriously the question whether September 11 will mark the beginning of a decline in the fortunes of urban spaces had so many people in positions of influence not been committed to convincing us of just that proposition. These analysts have argued that the attacks—devastating one of the nation's most visible urban symbols—show that the iconic city center is no longer a viable institution of social life. The only wise course, they have suggested, is to spread out, to empty the urban core, to sprawl. At the very least, they have argued, this is inevitably the message that most people will take from the attacks. Even if prudence does not demand more far-flung development, market forces will dictate that the escape to the suburbs will proceed with a new vigor in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center. This essay situates these contentions within a broader way of thinking about urbanism. We show that the assertions about the post-September 11 world are quite similar to arguments that have long been offered to suggest the virtues (or at least the inevitability) of the pattern of sprawl that has dominated our landscape since World War II. These arguments draw upon a familiar and well-developed rhetoric that makes sprawling development seem to be the consequence of individuals making rational decisions to disperse in order to vindicate their "self-interest." In response, many have drawn upon an equally well- developed rhetoric that seeks to privilege urban spaces over suburban ones by emphasizing the ways that central cities might win in the unavoidable competition with suburbs.
Gerald E. Frug, Beyond Regional Government, 115 Harv. L. Rev. 1763 (2002).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
"[A]lmost no one favors metropolitan area government," Anthony Downs has observed, "except a few political scientists and intellectuals."1 As a result, he said, "[p]roposals to replace suburban governments completely are ... doomed." Downs came to this conclusion after describing the significant economic, environmental, and social costs imposed by the current fragmentation of American metropolitan areas into dozens, sometimes hundreds, of independent municipalities. Although this fragmentation has its defenders, I shall assume in this Article that Downs is right on both of his points: that the current fragmented system of governance is unacceptable and that a regional government is not a viable alternative. The issue that this Article addresses is the relationship between these two assumptions: how can America correct the inequalities and inefficiencies that the current form of governance produces if regional government is not an option?
Gerald E. Frug, Is Secession from the City of Los Angeles a Good Idea?, 49 UCLA L. Rev. 1783 (2002).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
Are these attempts to secede from the City of Los Angeles a good idea? What is the idea? Is secession a form of privatization—an effort to isolate some parts of the City of Los Angeles from the problems found in others? Or is it the opposite, an example of what one might call publicazation—an attempt to reinvigorate local democracy by bringing government closer to its constituents? Any answer to these questions will be controversial. Even my use of the word "secession" is controversial. Those in favor of the process don't use the word. Neither does the governing statute. Instead they describe what is going on as a "special reorganization" (a process that allows "detachment" and the creation of the new city simultaneously.) Given this level of controversy, this Article cannot resolve the secession issue. I simply offer a way to think about it.
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, The Census As a Call to Action, 29 Fordham Urban L. J. 1387 (2002).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article

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Hauser 402

617-495-3019

Assistant: Kathy Goldstein / 617-496-4183