Professor Kenneth Stahl’s article “
Local Government, ‘One Person, One Vote’, and the Jewish Question
” was published in the
Harvard Civil Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review (CR–CL)
(Volume 49, Page 1-58, 2014).

Excerpt from the abstract:

stahl-harvard-law-review-cover“Enlightenment thinkers were transfixed by ‘the Jewish Question’ – how to incorporate the manifestly unassimilated Jewish community into a modern nation-state predicated on the idea of a uniform and homogenous citizenry. Their solution was to strip the Jewish community of its collective political character and recapitulate the Jews as abstract citizens of the state. Each Jew was henceforth to be ‘a man on the street and a Jew at home’…This article argues, though, that while Reynolds and its progeny have presumed to emasculate local governments, those decisions have had exactly the opposite impact. Under the guise that local governments have been rendered inert, courts surreptitiously permit municipalities to exercise a substantial degree of autonomy. The one person/one vote rule provides local governments with a veneer of legitimacy that enables courts to rationalize self-serving local behavior as the effectuation of a grand public interest. This seeming inconsistency in the courts’ treatment of local governments reflects an uneasy compromise between the Enlightenment dream to dissolve groups such as the Jewish community into the abstract ‘rights of man’ and a pragmatic realization that group identity is ineradicable. This compromise, I argue, has troubling consequences: it enables those with sufficient political or financial power to retreat into insulated enclaves under the aegis of state neutrality, while foreclosing recompense for those excluded from such enclaves by deploying the fiction that they still retain their abstract rights. The article concludes accordingly that the egalitarian promise of the one person/one vote jurisprudence rings hollow.”

View the full publication


Professor Kenneth Stahl

Professor Kenneth Stahl
 is the director of the Environmental, Land Use, and Real Estate Law certificate program at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law. Before joining Chapman in 2008, Professor Stahl spent four years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Prior to that, he worked as a Trial Attorney for the United States Department of Justice, Office of Constitutional Torts, and as an Associate at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter. Professor Stahl was named the 2008-2009 Professor of the Year at Fowler School of Law.

See more of Professor Stahl’s writings