Research Statement

My work centers on how American judicial institutions are created and evolve over time, and how these institutions influence constitutional change. As a student of American political development (APD), my primary line of inquiry seeks to uncover and detail the ways in which the U.S. Supreme Court advances and constructs federal power and authority. 

Specifically, I am interested in understanding four research findings: (1) the Supreme Court—as an instrument of the national government—has been a powerful driver of the development of central state authority. (2) Consequently, the growth of central state authority has entrenched both liberal and conservative (in the American sense) uses of state power. (3) At the Court’s hands, the growth of the central state has been gradual, expanding not at flashpoints but through accretive and uneven change, expanding more in certain constitutional issue areas than in others. (4) Central state authority, at least where the Court’s construction is concerned, began to grow in the United States long before the twentieth century. My research shows that regardless of the historical era or the Court’s ideology, it has persistently expanded federal authority across every constitutional issue area except judicial power, a finding that advances literatures on American political development, state building, federalism, and the role courts play in advancing the modern American state.

Research Keywords

  • federalism
  • Supreme Court
  • State-building
  • Constitutional Law
  • American Political Development


  • "Statutory Review on the Roberts Court: the Least Activist in U.S. History?" Presented at the Policy History Conference 2022. Tempe, AZ . Conference Paper, Presented, 06/03/2022.
  • "Trump, Courts, and Democratic Backsliding in a Comparative Perspective." Presented at the 2022 Western Political Science Association Conference, Portland, OR. Conference Paper, Presented, 03/10/2022.
  • "Policy Retrenchment through the Judiciary: The Curious Case of Texas v. Azar" (with Phillip Singer). American Political Science Association Virtual Meeting, September 9-13, 2021. Conference Paper, Presented, 09/10/2020.
  • Panelist for a Hinkcley Institute of Politics Forum, "Power to the People: US Voting Rights." . Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 10/30/2019.
  • "The General Mining Act of 1872 and American State Formation." Western Political Science Association, San Diego, CA . Conference Paper, Presented, 04/18/2019.