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Roderick M. Hills, Jr., William T. Comfort, III Professor of Law, NYU Law School. Roderick Hills teaches and writes in public law areas with a focus on the law governing division of powers between central and subcentral governments. He holds bachelor’s and law degrees from Yale University. Following law school, he served as a law clerk for Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and practiced law in Colorado. Hills previously taught at the University of Michigan Law School from 1994 to 2006. He is a member of the state bar of New York and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Laws are not merely created by, but also themselves create, interest groups by defining focal points around otherwise disorganized individuals can organize. Such effects, which I denote “constituency effects,” act as focal points enabling the laws’ beneficiaries to overcome collective action problems in lobbying to continue the law’s benefits. The common law of real property has dramatic constituency effects in creating a constituency of renters and owners of residential real estate (“neighbors”) that lobbies to preserve the built status quo of their neighborhood. This lobbying has resulted in a crisis of housing affordability in the United States. I will discuss whether and to what extent law could mobilize a counter-constituency of prospective buyers and renters of residential real estate (“migrants”) to lobby for the construction of new housing. The key is bestowing on migrants interests in specific property interests that can serve as focal points for collective action favoring new housing.