Demands for racial justice are resounding, and in turn, various localities have considered issuing reparations to Black residents. Municipalities may be effective venues in the struggle for reparations, but they face a variety of questions when crafting legislation. This Note walks through key considerations using proposed and enacted reparations plans as examples. It then presents a hypothetical city resolution addressing Philadelphia’s discriminatory police practices. Next, it turns to a constitutional analysis of reparations policies under current Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence, discussing both race-neutral and race-conscious plans. This Note argues that an antisubordination understanding of the Equal Protection Clause would better allow political branches to rectify vestiges of past discrimination and ongoing inequities through reparations plans such as the hypothetical Philadelphia City Council resolution. With these suggestions in mind, municipalities must boldly imagine and extend reparations to marginalized groups that have suffered harms. Similarly, the Court must reimagine its constitutional doctrine.
Municipal Reparations: Considerations and Constitutionality,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol120/iss2/5