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[In February 2020, Professor Ava Ayers announced that she is transgender. This article has been edited to reflect her gender identity.
Read more here.]
Professor Ava Ayers, director of the
Government Law Center at Albany Law School, is taking a critical look at a legislative practice that restricts states' decision-making potential in her new article,
"Federalism and the Right to Decide Who Decides," in the
Villanova Law Review.
In the article, Professor Ayers explains how some federal laws—such as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which includes a bar on public benefits for noncitizens—purport to preempt all state policies except those created by legislative enactment. Professor Ayers argues "that states have a sovereign right to decide who decides" and concludes that, by effectively nullifying states' executive or judicial powers on certain issues, "Congress acts unconstitutionally when it tries to use conditional preemption to push decisions into state legislatures." She then considers her argument's implications in public policy, legal doctrine, and legal theory.
"What is at stake in these conflicts is not just immigrants' rights, or relief for victims of gun violence, but also the shape and integrity of state governments across the nation," she writes.
As director of the GLC, Professor Ayers is overseeing a number of projects, including
a series of explainers—short policy papers—designed to help policymakers and others understand the complex laws that apply to state and local governments' choices about immigration policy. Professor Ayers authored two of the explainers:
"Immigrants and Public Benefits: What Must States and Localities Provide? (And When Do They Have a Choice?)" and
"'Sanctuary' Policies: What Are the Decisions Facing State and Local Governments?"
Read on SSRN:Federalism and the Right to Decide Who Decides
Professor Ayers also recently wrote a
policy brief on the history of reproductive rights in New York State and how the state's laws could continue to protect those rights under a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court. She discussed that report, published in partnership with the Center for Law and Policy Solutions at the Rockefeller Institute of Government,
with the Albany Times Union and
on the syndicated radio show "The Capitol Pressroom."
About Professor Ava Ayers
Professor Ayers graduated first in her class from Georgetown Law in 2005. She then clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, now a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, during her term on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She also clerked for the Honorable Gerard Lynch on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
After clerking, Ayers worked for nine years in the office of the New York Attorney General, where she was a Senior Assistant Solicitor General. She served both as a supervisor and as lead counsel in various high-profile cases involving immigration law, states' rights, constitutional rights, environmental law, and other issues.
Professor Ayers is the author of A STUDENT'S GUIDE TO LAW SCHOOL, published by the University of Chicago Press.
For more publications, presentations, and achievements,
visit Professor Ava Ayers' faculty page.