“I never felt more like a hooker at a bus station than when I ran for the Ohio State Supreme Court.”   

— Paul Pfeifer, Associate Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court

For many people living in small towns in America, having influence over their local government is a badge of honor. Some states, like Ohio, have gone so far as to amend their state constitution to grant special powers of self-governance, known as “home rule.” Home rule means cities have the power to govern themselves, as long as the city’s laws don’t conflict with state and federal laws.

It all seemed pretty clear. That was until the arrival of the domestic oil boom. In Ohio the drilling promised landowners riches if they were willing to allow a company to drill in their backyards. Many Ohioans have scrambled to get a piece of the extraction action, pitting those willing to put up with the disruption of drilling against neighbors who don’t want to live next door to an oil well. When it comes to drilling for oil, who under the law has the power to decide who can drill, and where?



Rig the System, Part 2 of our 2016 series Fair Fight for a Fair Court, was reported by Jonathan Hirsch, edited by Annie Aviles, with sound design and production by Shani Aviram.  Alyssa Bernstein, Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Nancy Mullane provided production support.

Our advising scholar on the story was Heidi Gorovitz Robertson, Steven W. Percy Distinguished Professor of Law, Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Full Transcript of Rig the System

Be sure to listen to:

“Revolution in a Cornfield” – Part 1 of our 2016 series A Fair Fight for a Fair Court




This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Open Society Foundations, the Law and Society Association, the Proteus Fund, the  Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, and was sponsored by Squarespace and The Great Courses Plus. Be sure to use the promo code LAW at check out to receive special benefits as a Life of the Law listener.

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