The following academic articles & essays, starting from the most recently published, best trace the details of my academic research trajectory.

Starting in 2005-2011, these early articles capture my thinking through how to frame and work with the qualitative data I had collected on abortion politics. As they become more focused, they led to my first book, The Street Politics of Abortion (2013).

There are three notable shifts captured in the articles running from 2012 to the present. The first, is my entry into co-authoring. The second, captured in “‘Tort Tales’ & TV Judges,” is the influence of teaching on some of my research interest. The third is the rise of my second major research project — conducted in partnership with Prof. Amanda Hollis-Brusky (Pomona College) — focusing on the emergent conservative Christian legal movement. This current project both grows out of the research that I had conducted on abortion politics, and can be seen in my second book, The New States of Abortion Politics (2016), as well as my co-authored articles with Prof. Hollis-Brusky.

Journal Articles & Essays

The Depth of [White] Christian Conservative Legal Activism & Learning. Featured Essay and Review of Lewis, A. “The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics: How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars” & Bennett, D. “Defending Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement” in Politics & Religion, Preview published online: January 2018, pp. 1-9.

This featured review essay takes a critical look at two recently published books on the Christian Right – Daniel Bennett’s Defending Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement (Kansas, 2017) and Andrew Lewis’s The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics: How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars (Cambridge, 2017). While it reviews the two books’ respective and collective contributions, it also takes the opportunity to consider the political development of, and the racialized resentment underlying, the contemporary Christian Right.

Playing for the Rules: How and Why New Christian Right Public Interest Law Firms Invest in Secular Litigation. Law & Policy, 39, 121-141, April 2017 (Co-Authored with Amanda Hollis-Brusky)

This article catalogues and analyzes the litigating behavior of four of the leading New Christian Right Public Interest Law Firms (NCR PILFs). Consistent with the finding from judicial politics that all PILFs seek first and foremost to have policy influence, we find that most of the litigation these PILFs invest in is either explicitly or implicitly religious or mission driven. However, we also observe a trend of increased participation in secular cases by the two largest NCR PILFs in our study. Through in-depth, qualitative content analysis of the briefs submitted in these secular cases, we show that while some of this behavior can be attributed to organizational maintenance or coalitional goals, most of this secular participation appears motivated by a desire to influence the legal rules rather than the outcome of the particular case. In doing so, this article shows how PILFs engage with an increasingly complex legal and political landscape.

Lawyers for God & Neighbor: The Emergence of “Law as a Calling” as a Mobilizing Frame for Christian Lawyers. Law & Social Inquiry, 39, 416-448, Spring 2014  (Co-Authored with Amanda Hollis-Brusky)

Drawing on movement framing, collective identity, and mobilization scholarship, this article examines the emergence and potential effects of framing “law as a calling” for the Christian Lawyering community. The article finds that the term should have strong resonance and salience in the broader Christian community. It also finds that because of its interpretive malleability, “law as a calling” has been discussed and actualized in three related, but distinct, ways. That is, “law as a calling” has been conceptualized as requiring Christian Lawyers to turn inward, turn outward by pursuing social justice, and turn outward as a culture warrior. The article argues that while the different interpretations of “law as a calling” address a range of needs required to mobilize potential and existing Christian L/lawyers, the different ideological factions of self-identifying Christian Lawyers emphasize different understandings of “law as a calling.”

“Tort Tales” & TV Judges: Amplifying, Modifying, or Countering the Anti-Tort Narrative. Law & Society Review, 46, 105-135, March 2012 (Co-Authored with Erin Ackerman)

This article joins the debate about the popular pervasiveness of antitort and antilitigation attitudes by examining whether, and to what extent, antitort or antilitigation sentiment is present in the narratives about law offered by reality-based television judge shows. Given the persistent debate about tort reform and scholars’ recognition of the role played in this debate by simplified narratives about the legal system, we analyze whether reality-based TV judge shows as a genre contribute to the creation and dissemination antitort and antilitigation sentiment. Earlier studies led us to hypothesize that TV judge shows would largely support the antitort and antilitigation narratives. After coding over 55 hours of such shows, however, we conclude that they do not adopt this narrative. Rather, these shows present a view of the civil law system that largely treats plaintiffs’ claims as legitimate and showcases the majority of defendants as wrongdoers. In spite of this, we argue that the particular dramatic qualities of TV judge shows limit their potential to serve as a strong counternarrative to antitort and antilitigation stories.

Sustaining the State: Exploring the Construction of Legality in Pro and Anti-Abortion Activists’ Post-Litigation Narratives. Law & Social Inquiry, 36, 455-483, Spring 2011

This article investigates how activists involved in both sides of the street politics of abortion simultaneously create, are constrained by, and use law when recounting a period of conflict that resulted in litigation. The activists-turned-litigants’ construction of legality is explored by identifying and analyzing patterns of inclusion, absence, amendment, and type of law (i.e., state or extrastate) in and across the stories they tell. It is found that even though there are multiple reasons to expect all of these activists to resist or amend the state’s conception of law, their narratives ultimately reproduce state law’s legitimacy and power. The activists’ stories also illustrate that legal consciousness is contextually and experientially based and is therefore subject to change. This finding has implications for legal mobilization as well as for the nature of legal consciousness.

It Takes All Kinds: Observations from an Event-Centered Approach to Cause Lawyering.  Studies in Law, Politics, & Society, 50, 169-206, 2009

Taking both an event-centered and a process approach to cause lawyering, the chapter asks: (1) if, when, and how working with movements can lead to one being functionally seen as a cause lawyer and (2) whether researchers should include “hired gun” and state attorneys in the cause lawyering conversation. These questions are addressed by seeing how various cause lawyer qualities are exhibited by a range of attorneys involved in anti-abortion protest regulation cases. The research suggests that reasons exist to view previously excluded attorneys through the cause lawyering lens, and to continue pursuing the cause lawyer qualities discussed here.

When Rights Collide: Anti-Abortion Protests and the Ideological Dilemma in Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo, Inc. v. Williams. Studies in Law, Politics, & Society, 35, 145-190, 2005

This article focuses on one court case concerning the regulation of Anti-Abortion protesting and asks: (1) Do the various actors involved in this case recognize a tension between their actions and their broader beliefs concerning the regulation of political protests? (2) If this tension is recognized, how do the actors resolve it, and if it is not recognized, why is it not? While concerned with legal consciousness and cognitive dissonance, the article is framed by broader questions concerning tolerance and the interaction of law and political passions.