Ph.D. 1995 (political science), M.A. 1990 (political science), Princeton; B.A. 1988 (political science), Honors Tutorial College, Ohio.
NYU Department of Politics, 19 W. 4th Street, New York, NY 10012
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For a full list of my work, see my
Areas of Research/Interest: American Politics, Judicial Politics, Political Economy
A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.
To view an interview about A Mere Machine on CSPAN's Book TV click here.
Votes Without Leverage: Women in American Electoral Politics, 1920-1968. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998.
For reviews of my book, Votes Without Leverage: Women in American Electoral Politics, 1920-1970 (Cambridge, 1998), see the following links:
Confirmation Bias in the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database (with Michael Woodruff). Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization doi: 10.1093/jleo/ewr003.(2011)
We ask whether the widely used direction of decision and direction of vote variables in the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database (USSCJD) are contaminated by confirmation bias, or have been affected by expectations about the likely effects of judicial preferences on case outcomes. Using a sample of generally comparable cases, we find evidence that the assignment of issue codes to these cases, codes that govern the subsequent assignment of “direction” to the Court’s judgments, is conditional on both case disposition and the known preferences of the deciding court, in the direction predicted by the hypothesis of confirmation bias. We also find that the USSCJD direction variables overstate the effect of judicial preferences and understate the effect of congressional preferences on case outcomes, relative to objectively coded measures of the Court’s judgments.
The Will of the Congress. Michigan State Law Review 3 (Fall): 729-739 (2010).
The historical narrative of Barry Friedman’s The Will of the People is strongly suggestive of a Supreme Court that responds to majoritarian preferences. Friedman’s narrative, however, leaves open the question of the source of this responsiveness. An analysis of the Court’s decisions in cases involving the constitutional review of federal statutes from the Warren through the Rehnquist Courts does not support the claim that the Court responds to public opinion per se, independently of congressional preferences. Instead, the evidence supports the hypothesis that the Court responds to the institutional incentives created by congressional leverage over the Court. These results should redirect our attention to the importance of institutional rules for incentivizing judges into responsiveness to majoritarian preferences.
Ducking Trouble: Congressionally-Induced Selection Bias in the Supreme Court's Agenda (With Barry Friedman, NYU Law). Journal of Politics 71: 2 (April 2009): 574-592.
Existing studies of congressional influence on Supreme Court decision-making have largely failed to recognize the fact that the Court has a discretionary docket. We model the effects of congressional preferences on the certiorari decision, and find strong evidence that the Court’s constitutional agenda is systematically influenced by Congress. The Court is significantly less likely to review cases wherein there are large congressionally-induced deviations between what the Court would like to do, and what it can do in its final rulings. This selection bias in the Court’s docket can lead to considerable uncertainty in estimating the effects of congressional constraint on the Court’s final decisions, including a failure to properly reject the null hypothesis of no constraint.
Pulling Punches: Congressional Constraints on the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Rulings, 1987-2000. Legislative Studies Quarterly 31:4 (November 2006): 533-562.(With Barry Friedman, NYU Law)
To date, no study has found evidence that the U.S. Supreme Court is constrained by Congress in its constitutional decisions. We addressed the selection bias inherent in previous studies with a statute-centered, rather than a case-centered, analysis, following all congressional laws enacted between 1987 and 2000. We uncovered considerable congressional constraint in the Court's constitutional rulings. In particular, we found that the probability that the Rehnquist Court would strike a liberal congressional law rose between 47% and 288% as a result of the 1994 congressional elections, depending on the legislative model used.
Electoral Institutions and the Evolution of Partisan Conventions, 1880-1940 (with Bumba Mukherjee, Florida State University). American Politics Research 34:3 (May 2006): 368-398.
This article examines variation in partisanship levels across the United States between 1880 and 1940 and suggests that the introduction of three electoral laws in this time period—party registration, primaries and secret ballots—can explain the geographic variation in partisanship levels across the United States during this era. Specifically, the article argues that the introduction of party registration increased the observability of partisan behavior; and this, in turn, increased partisanship strength in the states in which party registration was introduced. Conversely, primaries and secret ballots reduced the observability of partisan actions, which consequently weakened the level of partisanship. The authors test their theoretical predictions on aggregate levels of split-ticket voting across the United States between 1880 and 1940. The authors find considerable support for their predictions in time-series cross-section (TSCS) estimates of the effects of electoral institutions on levels of partisanship across states, support undiminished after corrections for endogeneity and selection bias.
Electing the Supreme Court (with Barry Friedman, NYU Law). Indiana Law Journal 78:1 (Winter/Spring 2003): 123-151.
This article uses empirical analysis to explore the relationship between the ideological distance between Congress and the Court, and the Court’s propensity to strike congressional statutes. We examine two kinds of ideological distance: that between the Court and the enacting Congress, and that between the Court and the sitting Congress. We find that, while some might expect the Court to be more likely to overturn statutes from ideologically distant enacting Congresses, there is no evidence of this effect in the data we employ. However, we do find that the Court is quite sensitive to the ideological composition of the sitting Congress: the closer the Congress, the more likely it is that the Court will overturn congressional statutes.
Fellowships/Honors: Executive Council, American Political Science Association (APSA) Political Parties Section, 1997-1998; Politics and History Section, 1996-1997; Best Dissertation Award, APSA Women in Politics Section, 1995; Best Paper Award, APSA Women in Politics Section, 1995.
External Affiliations: American Political Science Association.