The Urban Law Center is a research center focused on the role of the law in contemporary urbanism, advancing our understanding of the most pressing legal, policy and governance challenges facing cities and their metropolitan regions.

Law Professor Says Suing MTA For Bad Service Unlikely To Improve Commutes


By: Shumita Basu, WNYC



The Urban Law Bulletin: December 17, 2019


How Far Can Cities Go to Police the Homeless? Boise Tests the Limit

Does enforcement against public camping and sleeping violate the Eighth Amendment’s bar on cruel and unusual punishments? In Boise v. Martin, the Ninth Circuit ruled that it was unconstitutional to criminalize the act of sleeping outdoors when shelter space is not realistically available. In August, the city of Boise, Idaho asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that the Ninth Circuit’s decision could “imperil a host of other public health laws.” This past Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, letting the Ninth Circuit’s decision stand.

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The Urban Law Bulletin: January 28, 2020

The Made-Up Crisis Behind the State Takeover of Houston’s Public Schools

This January, a Texas court temporarily blocked state takeover of the Houston Independent School District, ordering a trial to decide the issue in June. “Following a 2015 law, HB 1842, the state of Texas was granted authority to take over a school district if a single school in that district fails to meet state education standards for five or more years . . . .” In issuing a temporary injunction, the court wrote that an immediate takeover would cause “irreparable harm.”

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The Urban Law Bulletin: February 18, 2020

Judge Upholds Northam’s Ban on Guns Outside Va. Capitol for Monday’s Rally

In January, a Circuit Court judge “upheld Gov. Ralph Northam’s temporary ban on firearms in [Virginia’s] Capitol Square” in anticipation of a gun rights rally to be held later that month. The ban was a response to reports of potential violence” by “militias and gun rights advocates.” Pro-gun groups, including Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America, argued that the ban “infringed on protesters’ rights to arms, assembly, and speech,” and planned to appeal the decision.

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The Urban Law Bulletin: March 10, 2020

5Pointz graffiti has now made an indelible mark on the law and art

This past month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit “affirmed a landmark 2018 decision awarding street artists $6.75 million in damages for the willful destruction of 45 works of aerosol art in Long Island City, Queens that were displayed on the walls of a building known as 5Pointz . . . The artists’ victory was considered a big win for graffiti, not only legally. It was irrefutable evidence that the form had graduated, achieving stature as high art.”

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