Dissertation Project: The Policies Justices Make

My dissertation examines how the Supreme Court affects policy development through statutory interpretation using the case studies of the National Labor Relations Act, Voting Rights Act, Social Security Act, and Clean Air and Water Acts.

An article version of the third chapter of the dissertation, which describes how the Supreme Court acted as an agent of policy drift in the case of the NLRA, has been accepted for publication at the American Political Science Review. Before submission, this manuscript was presented at the WPSA, MPSA, SPSA, and LSA annual meetings.

An article version of the Voting Rights Act case has been presented at MPSA 2022 and submitted for publication.

The Supreme Court and The Scope of Conflict

In a paper written with Kumar Ramanathan, we examine how the Republican Party has used favorable Supreme Court decisions to achieve their preferred policy outcomes while not having to take potentially costly legislative action in Congress. We argue that after the Court moves policy in their preferred direction, Republican lawmakers then narrow the scope of conflict by exerting negative agenda control and relying on norms of the judiciary as being apolitical and independent, leaving the policy status quo in the hands of the courts and beyond the reach of Congress. This paper was presented at MPSA 2022 and SPSA 2023 and has been submitted for publication.

Interest Group Scorecards and Intra-Party Conflict

In a project with Laurel Harbridge-Yong, we explore how interest group scorecards affect the influence of party leaders and intraparty cohesion in the United States Congress, arguing that interest groups will incentivize rank and file members to break with party leaders when organized interests and leadership take opposing positions on floor votes. Examining the position of fourteen interest groups across the 110th-115th Congress, we find that support for our hypothesis, and also uncover new insights regarding when interest groups disagree with ideologically aligned party leaders. These findings have important implications for interest group strategy, party leadership, and where power resides in the legislative process.

Public Scholarship

In January 2022, I published an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune with Tonja Jacobi titled, “In voting rights battle, moderate Republicans are allowed to duck the issue”. In the piece, we argued that moderate Republican Senators (especially Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins) deserved heightened public scrutiny for their position-taking (or lack thereof) on proposed voting rights legislation.