The Emerging Doctrine of State/Municipal Liability

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Martin Lockman is a 2019 graduate of Columbia Law School.

This Note contributes to the literature in three ways. Part I of this Note defines and describes the targeted context, provides examples of state/municipal delegation, discusses the underlying tension between vindicating federal rights and respecting states’ rights to structure their own internal governance, and observes that courts have taken a nuanced approach to resolving this tension analogous to § 1983’s standards supervisory liability. Part II describes judicial approaches to state/municipal liability and analyzes two proposed theoretical frameworks. Part III examines the history and function of § 1983’s “supervisory liability” standards, looks at recent state/municipal delegation cases through the lens of supervisory liability, and argues for the adoption of an analogous standard to govern state/municipal delegation.

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