Hastings Law Journal


In the last five years, several communities in the United States have adopted "new breed" nuclear free zone ordinances. The central feature of the new breed ordinances is that they prohibit local governments from contracting with entities that produce nuclear weapons or components of nuclear weapons. This Article argues that these prohibitions are legally unenforceable. First, the ordinances conflict with statutory requirements that local governments contract with the "lowest responsible bidder." Second, the ordinances constitute a regulation of nuclear weapons production, and the federal Atomic Energy Act of 1954 therefore preempts them. Third, the ordinances infringe upon the federal government's exclusive authority over military and foreign affairs by impeding the federal government's ability to pursue its nuclear weapons policies. Thus, the ordinances conflict with both statutory and constitutional mandates, and are legally invalid.

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