Current research focuses on, the politics of state legislatures, the impact of campaign finance laws, and the impact of state constitutions.
I am working with Nancy Miller (University of Dayton), Maria Aroca (Rice University) and Ronald D Hedlund (Northeastern University, retired) on a state constitution collection and analysis project that spans all 50 states and all adopted state constitutions. We are curating a digital collection of all state constitutions adopted as well as all amendments to those constitutions(utilizing the NBER digital archive and other sources). Our goal is to use this collection of constitutions to provide a better understanding of the important role that state constitutions play in defining the values and policies that a state’s citizens hold dear as well as for defining the processes by which a state determines who gets what, when and how. Additionally, we have been exploring and refining the use of text analysis and natural language processing techniques on the state constitutions with the goal that we will be able to trace the development of these foundational documents both over time and across states giving us a better understanding about how states are inspired by and learn from each other. We are also developing a process and coding scheme that will allow us to compare in a systematic way the public policies codified in these documents. One potential possibility of our larger project is to provide to scholars, practitioners, and citizens a searchable web-based interface that that will allow easy access to the extent to which a state’s constitution covers a specific public policy.