Welcome to the Edwin F. Jaeckle Center for State and Local
Democracy, a multidisciplinary research center of SUNY Buffalo Law
School, the State University of New York.
Politics is often thought of as the antithesis of law, yet the two are intimately connected: politics - and above all, democratic politics - inevitably takes place within an arena defined and structured by law. Law establishes the ground rules of democratic politics; it creates the offices to be filled, prescribes the powers officials may exercise, decrees the times and formats of elections, establishes procedures for voting and campaigning, and sets the outer boundaries of permissible behavior for participants in the ongoing enterprise of democratic contestation for power. In so doing, law exerts a significant influence on the form, and consequently on the content, of democratic practices. Ultimately, law plays an important role in the constitution of democratic citizenship and of political identity itself.
The Jaeckle Center is dedicated to the study of the ways in which law and legal institutions structure American politics at the subnational level, and the public consequences of those structures for democratic political life. The interests of the Center and its faculty affiliates range widely, from state constitutions and local government charters, to the powers and jurisdiction of state and local government agencies, to regional economic development, to the microprocesses of local democracy, to empirical and comparative analysis of local governmental decision making, to the nature and desirability of the dispersion of authority among multiple layers of government, and a host of other topics.
Assisted by our Jaeckle Fellows – graduate students drawn from law and other departments across the university – the Center also engages in original, long-term research projects and data collection. Some of the preliminary fruits of this research are already available elsewhere on this website.
Inquiries concerning the activities of the Center and its affiliates and staff are welcome, as is feedback on the content of this site.
James A. Gardner
Joseph W. Belluck and Laura L. Aswad Professor of Civil Justice Director