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University of Memphis Law Review


Many municipalities are making critical errors in their attempts to alleviate current financial burdens by contracting with private entities to perform many of their essential functions, most notably those agreements with companies to install traffic cameras and, in many cases, to monitor and cite offenders. By subcontracting part of their exclusive power to enforce law, these municipalities essentially bargain away sovereignty by parting with portions of their inherent police power. As these cameras fill a role played by the state’s law enforcement personnel, municipalities impermissibly infringe on the actual sovereignty of the state as well as the conceptual sovereignty of the people. Because sovereignty is envisioned as residing with a people at large but is practically exercised by the state, these contracts may represent a new model of sovereignty. This model does not follow the traditional view of sovereignty as a binary or a tension between the state and the people. Rather than returning sovereignty to the conceptual rulers, these contracts represent a new delegation of sovereign powers to private entities.

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Publication Date

Winter 2012

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