I earned my B.A. in Political Science at St. Mary's College of Maryland and my Ph.D. in Political Science at UC Davis.  I spent five years on the faculty at the University of South Carolina before moving to UC Merced to build a brand new political science program at the newest University of California campus.

Most of my research interests are in the area of U.S. judicial politics, where I have studied 1) the advocacy efforts of organized interests at the U.S. Supreme Court, 2) the functioning and treatment of precedent at the Court, and 3) how the public views and evaluates courts and court decisions.  I have recently started a project on the current meaning and function of the U.S. Constitution in the eyes of the public.

I am also interested in elections and voting behavior.  Some of my research in this area examines exogenous shocks on voter turnout (e.g., bad weather on election day) and the consequences of variation in voter turnout for election outcomes.  Other studies of mine attempt to identify the causal connection between subjective perceptions of the state of the economy and both vote choice and the decision to vote at all.

My published articles appear in the American Political Science ReviewAmerican Journal of Political ScienceJournal of PoliticsPolitical Research QuarterlyAmerican Politics ResearchElectoral StudiesJournal of Law and CourtsJustice System Journal, Law & Society ReviewPolitical BehaviorPolitical Psychology, and Presidential Studies Quarterly.  I am also coauthor of The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court (Princeton University Press).

With support from the National Science Foundation, I (along with Sarah Depaoli and Kayla Canelo) have developed the Amici Space Project.  This website provides ideal point estimates for organized interests, state attorneys general, U.S. solicitors general, and Supreme Court justices, as well as the amicus curiae brief data used to generate these estimates.

I have served in a number of leadership roles at UC Merced, including Chair of the Merced Division of the Academic Senate.  I am currently serving as Vice Provost for Academic Personnel (