This course is for those curious about the place of "the rural" in American law and politics. Perhaps you've noticed the buzz and backlash surrounding books like JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. Maybe you've read about the opioid epidemic in rural communities or are interested in voting access for rural Native people. This course will push students to think seriously about how law shapes rural communities and how rural geography in turn shapes legal and policy implementation. The course will survey a broad range of legal subfields and expose students to historical and contemporary legal problems specific to rural communities in the United States by using legal, political, and historical sources. We will cover topics such as rural legal aid, environmental protection, American Indian law, farmworkers rights, rural technology, education policy, land use, water law, and even criminal prosecution. In the process we'll consider changing legal definitions of the rural, consider how each of the topics covered are intertwined, and rethink the place of rural communities in American law and policy. Students will leave the course with the ability to reassess the relationship between legal principles learned in other courses and the spaces and places in which those laws and legal decisions are implemented.
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