The Meyner Center, in partnership with the Forum of Federations, Canada, and School of Law at the University of Queensland, Australia, completed a project on judicial systems in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, European Union, Germany, India, Mexico, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States–particularly the extent to which they promote the rule of law and also decentralization or centralization. The project was funded by the government of Quebec. A comparative volume stemming from this project is: Nicholas Aroney and John Kincaid, eds., Courts in Federal Systems: Federalists or Unitarists? Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017.
London School of Economics Blog Site “A guide for successful devolution,” October 13, 2014 by John Kincaid
This blog outlines key issues that need to be addressed by devolutions of power such as those involving U.K. devolution to Scotland and Wales.
“How nations can cope with growing separatist movements,” The Morning Call, October 5, 2014, p. 29, by John Kincaid.
The 2014 separatist votes in Catalonia and Scotland pose present and future challenges to democratic countries. This article suggests ways countries might peacefully deal with separatist movements.
“State-Federal Relations: States Still on the Defensive” The Book of the States. Lexington: KY: Council of State Governments, 2014, pp. 19-29, by John Kincaid.
Party polarization continues to sustain gridlock in Washington and produce state-federal tensions. States could reduce Washington’s polarized gridlock by eliminating partisan gerrymandering and reforming primary elections, but states also are more polarized along red and blue lines. Polarization contributes to coercive federalism, and states are on the defensive in their relations with the federal government as indicated by state-federal conflicts over the Affordable Care Act, the Common Core, and REAL ID. Many observers tout state innovation as a counterbalance to Washington’s gridlock but many innovations are polarizing because they are produced by one-party states and lack bipartisan traction. The federal government also preempts some state innovations and nationalizes others.
Northampton Cty-Stray Dogs 2013 (PDF format)
Citizens United – A Victory for Freedom of Speech (Microsoft Word format)
This paper, written by Meyner Center Director John Kincaid, explores the controversial 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
From the paper:
“The ruling has drawn polarized responses, partly because our political and media elites are polarized, including the justices whose 5-4 ruling reflected the now common polarization between the Court’s usual conservative and liberal factions, with the sometimes liberal, sometimes conservative justice, Anthony Kennedy, siding with the conservatives this time. This polarization raises serious questions about the integrity of the Court as a neutral arbiter of the federal Constitution.
The decision was polarizing, too, because it was bold. The majority rejected an opportunity to issue a narrower decision.”
From the report:
“This report has been completed pursuant to a contract between the City of Easton and Lafayette College’s Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government. It is a Program Review of recommendations contained in the 2006 Early Intervention Report, which was completed by Public Financial Management, Inc. (PFM) with assistance from Keystone Municipal Services. Specifically, the scope of work included:
1. Meeting individually with each of Easton’s five Department Directors and other employees to review the recommendations made in the PFM Report and to determine which of the recommendations have been implemented, rejected, or not completed yet;
2. Reviewing with each Department Director and other employees why any recommendations were rejected;
3. Addressing with each Department Director and other employees the realistic feasibility of implementing each recommendation;
4. Discussing with each Department Director and other employees additional operational issues that are both important, and of potential value to the efficient and productive delivery of public services; and
5. Offering recommendations to each Department Director and other employees to assist and guide them in achieving goals and objectives.
This report has five sections: (1) Introduction; (2) Executive Summary of recommendations that the Meyner Center believes should be priorities for the City; (3) Historical and Background Information; (4) General Observations; and (5) Program Review of the individual recommendations in each department.”
From the report:
“A municipality is, in many ways, a business, although a unique kind of business that measures its ultimate success by the quality of public services and assistance that it provides to its residents. It is difficult for any full-time business to be run effectively by a Board whose members work on a part-time basis; therefore, the elected officials need an effective administrator and staff that understand the policies of the Township, and the direction established by the Board. Forks Township has a Board of Supervisors whose members are dedicated to serving its residents. It also has an administrator and five Department Heads capable of administering the day-to-day activities of the Township. The most effective way to administer the municipality is to create a team consisting of the Board members and the full-time management staff. If they work together and communicate thoroughly, the Township can succeed in providing a high quality of public services and assistance to the residents of Forks. We recommend that the Board of Supervisors empower its Township Manager and Department Heads with the authority necessary to carry out the policies established by the Board. The Board should steer the boat, and leave the rowing to the staff. This delegation of responsibility by an informed Board to a skilled management team will result in an effective, efficient, and productively run municipality.”
From the report:
“This report conveys the results of a January-February 2003 bioterrorism-preparedness survey of police, fire, EMS, hospital, and emergency-management first responders in Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, and Warren Counties conducted by the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government at Lafayette College. The purpose of the survey was to obtain a general picture of the region’s preparedness to respond to bioterrorism.”