The article argues for an increase in de facto already claimed city sovereignty. It situates the discussion, first in the historical context of city-state relationships, and second, in the current urban crises in the United States tied to the sanctuary city movement, then examines legal grounds for devolution of power to cities, before discussing the legal concepts of “urban commons” and “city power”, finally outlining constraints facing increasingly sovereign cities. The article argues that current legal literature on “urban commons” and “city power” needs a stronger normative lens and better conceptualization of urban inequality, redistribution, and publicness. Moreover, if cities are to assume greater capacity to govern and to ensure life, liberty, and the sustainability of their populations, they have to overcome serious constraints in the four domains outlined in the article: (1) surveillance and control of urban space, (2) privatization of public space, (3) the rise of the luxury city, large-scale developments, megaprojects, and (4) homelessness.
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