Skip to content

Laurence H. Tribe, Unraveling National League of Cities: the New Federalism and Affirmative Rights to Essential Government Services, 90 Harv. L. Rev. 1065 (1977).

Abstract: Although decided less than one year ago, National League of Cities v. Usery has come to symbolize the Burger Court's concern for the rights of states in the federal system. In this Article, Professor Tribe argues that, however surprisingly, the doctrinal boundaries and distinctions drawn in the decision prevent it from being understood as anything but an effort by the Court to provide the states leeway to afford their citizens basic governmental services guaranteed by the Constitution. Under this view, "National League of Cities" emerges not as another example of the Court's general move to restrict personal rights, but rather as a step reflecting an underlying recognition of affirmative rights in a just constitutional order.