Our Team

Roderick Hills, Jr.

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 politics and policy behind centralization of banking regulation (Exorcising McCulloch: The Conflict-Ridden History of American Banking Nationalism and Dodd-Frank Preemption, 161 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1235(2013)), the role of the President in suppressing states' immigration policy (Arizona v. United States: The Unitary Executive’s Enforcement Discretion as a Limit on Federalism, 2011-2012 Cato Sup. Ct. Rev. 189), and the advantages of decentralization in educational policy (The Case for Educational Federalism: Protecting Educational Policy from the National Government's Diseconomies of Scale, 87 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1941 (2012)). 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.