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) the influence of the other branches of government on federal courts. I am currently working on how the public fundamentally views and evaluates courts and court decisions. I am also beginning 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 varation 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 Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, American Politics Research, Electoral Studies, Journal of Law and Courts, Justice System Journal, Law & Society Review, Political Behavior, Political Psychology, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. I am also coauthor of The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court (Princeton University Press). My work has benefitted from support from the National Science Foundation.