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Wisconsin Law Review



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Home rule developed through nearly a century and a half of popular reform aimed at devolving legal authority, leaving a legacy of detailed constitutional provisions in many states. State courts, however, can interpret these provisions as a relatively unconstrained instrumental and normative exercise in constitutional common law, reflexively valorizing state authority in the process. Home rule jurisprudence carries an irreducible element of judicial discretion, but this Essay argues that paying insufficient attention to constitutional text—read in the context of the reform movements that help shape the adoption of those home rule provisions—undermines popular sovereignty and risks ossifying the institutional flexibility of state constitutional structure. These concerns are all the more salient at a moment of renewed interest in home rule reform.

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