Our Team

Roderick Hills

Professor Roderick Hills teaches and writes in a variety of public law areas – constitutional law (with an emphasis on doctrines governing federalism), local government law, land-use regulation, jurisdiction and conflicts of law, education law. His interest in these topics springs from their common focus on the problems and promise of decentralization. The United States has one of the most decentralized systems of regulation in the world, placing enormous power over land, schools, assistance to the needy (among many other topics) under the control of subnational governments, ranging from school districts to states. How these governments interact with each other and with higher levels of government poses complex legal questions. As a matter of policy, decentralization is said to have some characteristic virtues (for instance, efficient representation of local preferences) and vices (for instance, promotion of class and race segregation). Professor Hills’ work explores our decentralized legal regime with an eye towards evaluating how well it balances these costs and benefits.

Professor Hills’ recent work has focused the virtues and vices of decentralization in the federal control of non-federal corruption (Federalism and Corruption: (When) Do Federal Criminal Prosecutions Improve Non-Federal Democracy?,6 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 113 (January 2005)), the states’ regulation of local government (Is Federalism Good for Localism? The Localist Case for Federalist Regimes, 221 J. L. & Politics 187 (2005)), the use of federalism to defuse controversies over culture and religion (Westphalian Liberalism, forthcoming in ___ Fordham L. Rev. ___ (2006)), and the comparative advantages of federal and state politics in providing efficiently non-uniform policy-making for non-uniform communities (Compared to What? Tiebout and the Comparative Merits of Congress and the States in Constitutional Federalism, in The Tiebout Model at Fifty: Essays in Public Economics in Honor of Wallace Oates. W.A. Fischel, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2006)). He is working on a long-term project to describe the ways in which federal regimes in the United States, Canada, and Germany have decentralized the definition of complex private rights to subnational governments as a way of managing cultural conflict, expanding on earlier work that treated private rights themselves as systems of decentralized governance (The Constitutional Rights of Private Governments, 78 NYU L Rev 144 (2003)). His articles have been published in the Michigan Law Review, Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Supreme Court Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

In addition to being a scholar and teacher, Professor Hills has been a cooperating council with the American Civil Liberties Union for many years, filing briefs in cases challenging denial of domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples (Pride at Work v. Granholm), exclusion of prison inmates from the protections of state anti-discrimination law (Mason v. Granholm), denial of rights to challenge prison guards’ visitation by family members for prison inmates (Bazzetta v. McGinnis), and discrimination of recently arrived indigent migrants in public assistance (Saenz v. Roe).

Professor Hills holds bachelor’s and law degrees from Yale University, and was a Century Fellow with the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago in 1988. While attending law school, Hills was a member of the Yale Law Journal and co-editor in chief of the Yale Journal of Law & Humanities. Following law school, he served as a law clerk for the Hon. Patrick Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and prior to joining the Michigan Law faculty, he practiced law in Boulder, Colorado.