I began assigning these readings for USP 513 in the spring of 2012. Since these are public domain documents, I have not created a separate locked page for this.
I have posted the U.S. Constitution as three documents:
1) The initial Constitution (1787) included only 7 Articles. As planners, we should focus on:
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 (taxation and welfare clause);
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 (commerce clause);
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 (necessary and proper clause).
However, various citizens objected to the ’87 draft, in which the Articles described the powers of a new federal government, but did not constrain that new government. As a compromise they insisted that they would only ratify the Articles if Ten Amendments were added. These first ten Amendments became known as the ‘Bill of Rights‘. For planners, the most important bits are:
The First Amendment (anti-censorship, free press)
Fourth Amendment (security in our papers and effects)
Fifth Amendment (the ‘takings’ clause)
Seventh Amendment (access to civil courts)
Since 1789, seventeen more Amendments (11-27) have been added.
The 13th and the 19th are important for expanding rights, but in many ways the 14th Amendment is the most radical and the most significant for planners.
Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886): discrimination against Chinese Laundries in San Francisco, 1870s. This case marks the beginning of many aspects of urban planning in the U.S., including the enforcement of fire-safety codes, selective racial discrimination through those codes, and a very early interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): decided ten years after Yick Wo, the Supreme Court came to an almost opposite decision, upholding segregation that became the model for the Apartheid system in South Africa.
Euclid v. Ambler Realty (1926): The big case that upheld the Standard Zoning Enabling Act (1926) and made it possible for communities to adopt codes that impinged upon private property rights. See also: “The real story behind Standard Planning and Zoning Acts.” American Planning Association.
Wickersham, Jay. 2001. “Jane Jacobs’ critique of Euclidean zoning.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): Adopted during the sober, but idealistic years after WWII, this Declaration was adopted by most of the member states of the UN, including the U.S. However, some of its more radical ideas still have not been implemented. Reality check: in this same year Native Americans were granted U.S. citizenship. Chinese-Americans were only granted citizenship in 1943.
Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954): Based on Clark Kerr’s studies of segregated schools and several decades of preparation by equal-rights advocates, this decision overturned the ‘separate-but-equal’ principle established in Plessy. How did it reshape the urban environment?
Note also that the Brown decision began the ‘inversion’ of roles between the Democratic and Republican parties. One of the main reasons for the creation of the Republican Party in 1860 was to oppose slavery. Even in the 1950s, Southern Democrats remained opposed to Civil Rights. Strom Thurmond was a Democrat in 1956 when he asked that the “The Southern Manifesto” be read into the Congressional Record. His switch from Democrat to Republican in 1964 marks the moment when the roles of the parties inverted and Republicans became opponents of civil rights.
Berman v. Parker (1954): This decision upheld the authority of local governments to conduct urban redevelopment.
Kelo v. City of New London (2005): Urban regimes demolished all sorts of minority-owned urban neighborhoods from the 1940s through the 1970s for various reasons deemed to be ‘public purpose.’ But when a predominantly white neighborhood was expropriated for the sake of economic development, this case provoked a firestorm of populist reaction against the principle of ‘eminent domain.’