front cover of Race, Redistricting, and Representation
Race, Redistricting, and Representation
The Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts
David T. Canon
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Since the creation of minority-dominated congressional districts eight years ago, the Supreme Court has condemned the move as akin to "political apartheid," while many African-American leaders argue that such districts are required for authentic representation.

In the most comprehensive treatment of the subject to date, David Canon shows that the unintended consequences of black majority districts actually contradict the common wisdom that whites will not be adequately represented in these areas. Not only do black candidates need white votes to win, but this crucial "swing" vote often decides the race. And, once elected, even the black members who appeal primarily to black voters usually do a better job than white members of walking the racial tightrope, balancing the needs of their diverse constituents.

Ultimately, Canon contends, minority districting is good for the country as a whole. These districts not only give African Americans a greater voice in the political process, they promote a politics of commonality—a biracial politics—rather than a politics of difference.

front cover of Raising Hell for Justice
Raising Hell for Justice
The Washington Battles of a Heartland Progressive
David R. Obey
University of Wisconsin Press, 2007
David Obey has in his nearly forty years in the U.S. House of Representatives worked to bring economic and social justice to America’s working families. In 2007 he assumed the chair of the Appropriations Committee and is positioned to pursue his priority concerns for affordable health care, education, environmental protection, and a foreign policy consistent with American democratic ideals.
     Here, in his autobiography, Obey looks back on his journey in politics beginning with his early years in the Wisconsin Legislature, when Wisconsin moved through eras of shifting balance between Republicans and Democrats. On a national level Obey traces, as few others have done, the dramatic changes in the workings of the U.S. Congress since his first election to the House in 1969. He discusses his own central role in the evolution of Congress and ethics reforms and his view of the recent Bush presidency—crucial chapters in our democracy, of interest to all who observe politics and modern U.S. history.
Best Books for Regional General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

front cover of The Reed Smoot Hearings
The Reed Smoot Hearings
The Investigation of a Mormon Senator and the Transformation of an American Religion
Michael Harold Paulos
Utah State University Press, 2022
This book examines the hearings that followed Mormon apostle Reed Smoot’s 1903 election to the US Senate and the subsequent protests and petitioning efforts from mainstream Christian ministries disputing Smoot’s right to serve as a senator. Exploring how religious and political institutions adapted and shapeshifted in response to larger societal and ecclesiastical trends, The Reed Smoot Hearings offers a broader exploration of secularism during the Progressive Era and puts the Smoot hearings in context with the ongoing debate about the constitutional definition of marriage.
The work adds new insights into the role religion and the secular played in the shaping of US political institutions and national policies. Chapters also look at the history of anti-polygamy laws, the persistence of post-1890 plural marriage, the continuation of anti-Mormon sentiment, the intimacies and challenges of religious privatization, the dynamic of federal power on religious reform, and the more intimate role individuals played in effecting these institutional and national developments.
The Smoot hearings stand as an important case study that highlights the paradoxical history of religious liberty in America and the principles of exclusion and coercion that history is predicated on. Framed within a liberal Protestant sensibility, these principles of secular progress mapped out the relationship of religion and the nation-state for the new modern century. The Reed Smoot Hearings will be of significant interest to students and scholars of Mormon, western, American, and religious history.
Publication supported, in part, by Gonzaba Medical Group.
Contributors: Gary James Bergera, John Brumbaugh, Kenneth L. Cannon II, Byron W. Daynes, Kathryn M. Daynes, Kathryn Smoot Egan, D. Michael Quinn

front cover of Reforming Legislatures
Reforming Legislatures
American Voters and State Ballot Measures, 1792-2020
Peverill Squire
University of Missouri Press, 2024
Legislatures are ubiquitous in the American political experience. First created in Virginia in 1619, they have existed continuously ever since. Indeed, they were established in even the most unlikely of places, notably in sparsely populated frontier settlements, and functioned as the focal point of every governing system devised.
Despite the ubiquity of state legislatures, we know remarkably little about how Americans have viewed them as organizations, in terms of their structures, rules, and procedures. But with the rise of modern public opinion surveys in the twentieth century, we now have extensive data on how Americans have gauged legislative performance throughout the many years. That said, the responses to the questions pollsters typically pose reflect partisanship, policy, and personality. Generally, respondents respond favorably to legislatures controlled by their own political party and those in power during good economic times. Incumbent lawmakers get ratings boosts from having personalities, “home styles” that mesh with those of their constituents. These relationships are important indicators of people’s thoughts regarding the current performance of their legislatures and legislators, but they tell us nothing about attitudes toward the institution and its organizational characteristics.
This study offers a unique perspective on what American voters have historically thought about legislatures as organizations and legislators as representatives. Rather than focusing on responses to surveys that ask respondents how they rate the current performance of lawmakers and legislatures, this study leverages the most significant difference between national and state politics: the existence of ballot propositions in the latter. At the national level Americans have never had any say over Congress’s structure, rules, or procedures. In contrast, at the state level they have had ample opportunities over the course of more than two centuries to shape their state legislatures. The data examined here look at how people have voted on more than 1,500 state ballot propositions targeting a wide array of legislative organizational and parliamentary features. By linking the votes on these measures with the public debates preceding them, this study documents not only how American viewed various aspects of their legislatures, but also whether their opinions held constant or shifted over time. The findings reported paint a more nuanced picture of Americans’ attitudes toward legislatures than the prevailing one derived from survey research. When presented with legislative reform measures on which concrete choices were offered and decisions on them had to be made, the analyses presented here reveal that, counter to the conventional wisdom that people loved their representatives but hated the legislature, voters usually took charitable positions toward the institution while harboring skeptical attitudes about lawmakers’ motives and behaviors.

front cover of Religious Liberty and the American Founding
Religious Liberty and the American Founding
Natural Rights and the Original Meanings of the First Amendment Religion Clauses
Vincent Phillip Muñoz
University of Chicago Press, 2022
An insightful rethinking of the meaning of the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.
The Founders understood religious liberty to be an inalienable natural right. Vincent Phillip Muñoz explains what this means for church-state constitutional law, uncovering what we can and cannot determine about the original meanings of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses and constructing a natural rights jurisprudence of religious liberty.  

Drawing on early state constitutions, declarations of religious freedom, Founding-era debates, and the First Amendment’s drafting record, Muñoz demonstrates that adherence to the Founders’ political philosophy would lead neither to consistently conservative nor consistently liberal results. Rather, adopting the Founders’ understanding would lead to a minimalist church-state jurisprudence that, in most cases, would return authority from the judiciary to the American people. Thorough and convincing, Religious Liberty and the American Founding is key reading for those seeking to understand the Founders’ political philosophy of religious freedom and the First Amendment Religion Clauses.

front cover of The Right of Instruction and Representation in American Legislatures, 1778 to 1900
The Right of Instruction and Representation in American Legislatures, 1778 to 1900
Peverill Squire
University of Michigan Press, 2021
The Right of Instruction and Representation in American Legislatures, 1778 to 1900 provides a comprehensive analysis of the role constituent instructions played in American politics for more than a hundred years after its founding. Constituent instructions were more widely issued than previously thought, and members of state legislatures and Congress were more likely to obey them than political scientists and historians have assumed. Peverill Squire expands our understanding of constituent instructions beyond a handful of high-profile cases, through analyses of two unique data sets: one examining more than 5,000 actionable communications (instructions and requests) sent to state legislators by constituents through town meetings, mass meetings, and local representative bodies; the other examines more than 6,600 actionable communications directed by state legislatures to their state’s congressional delegations. He draws the data, examples, and quotes almost entirely from original sources, including government documents such as legislative journals, session laws, town and county records, and newspaper stories, as well as diaries, memoirs, and other contemporary sources. Squire also includes instructions to and from Confederate state legislatures in both data sets. In every respect, the Confederate state legislatures mirrored the legislatures that preceded and followed them.

front cover of The Rise of the Representative
The Rise of the Representative
Lawmakers and Constituents in Colonial America
Peverill Squire
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Representation is integral to the study of legislatures, yet virtually no attention has been given to how representative assemblies developed and what that process might tell us about how the relationship between the representative and the represented evolved. The Rise of the Representative corrects that omission by tracing the development of representative assemblies in colonial America and revealing they were a practical response to governing problems, rather than an imported model or an attempt to translate abstract philosophy into a concrete reality. Peverill Squire shows there were initially competing notions of representation, but over time the pull of the political system moved lawmakers toward behaving as delegates, even in places where they were originally intended to operate as trustees. By looking at the rules governing who could vote and who could serve, how representatives were apportioned within each colony, how candidates and voters behaved in elections, how expectations regarding their relationship evolved, and how lawmakers actually behaved, Squire demonstrates that the American political system that emerged following independence was strongly rooted in colonial-era developments.

front cover of RSF
The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences: The Social, Political, and Economic Effects of the Affordable Care Act
Andrea Campbell
Russell Sage Foundation, 2020
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as the ACA or Obamacare, was enacted in 2010 in the wake of the Great Recession. The law transformed the way that Americans access healthcare, nearly halving the ranks of the 49 million uninsured Americans. Edited by political scientist Andrea Louise Campbell and economist Lara Shore-Sheppard, this issue of RSF examines the social, political, and economic effects of this landmark legislation.

This journal issue explores the political dimensions of the rollout of the ACA and the attendant backlash. Contributors Helen Levy, Andrew Ying, and Nicholas Bagley argue that despite repeated efforts at repeal, over 80 percent of the Act has been implemented as it was originally intended.  Julianna Pacheco, Jake Haselswerdt, and Jamila Michener show that when Republican governors support Medicaid expansion, Republican voters become more favorable toward the ACA, and polarization between Republican and Democrat voters decreases. Yet Charles Courtemanche, James Marton, and Aaron Yelowitz find little impact of the ACA on voter participation. Lisa Beauregard and Edward Miller examine states’ adoption of the ACA’s home and community-based care services for the elderly and people with disabilities, finding that states with more liberal elected officials and more fiscal capacity were more likely to adopt these provisions. Paul Shafer, David Anderson, Seciah Aquino, Laura Baum, Erika Franklin Fowler, and Sarah Gollust probe the role of different types of health insurance and political advertising on insurance enrollment.  Richard Fording and Dana Patton explain the emergence of contentious Medicaid work requirements and patient co-pays that limit access to Medicaid. 

Other contributors address how the ACA affects marginalized populations. Carrie Fry, Thomas McGuire, and Richard Frank link Medicaid expansion to lower rates of recidivism among the formerly incarcerated. Radhika Gore, Ritu Dhar, Sadia Mohaimin, Priscilla Lopez, Anna Divney, Jennifer Zanowiak, Lorna Thorpe, and Nadia Islam study primary care practices serving South Asian immigrants in New York City and highlight the importance of social context and organizational constraints in designing population health interventions. The issue also examines the economic effects of the ACA, especially on access to private and public health insurance. Both Mark Hall and Jean Abraham study instability in ACA health insurance markets, with Hall focusing on uncertainty arising from political factors and Abraham examining the factors that lead local markets to face high premiums and low insurer participation. Philip Rocco and Andrew Kelly explore the mechanisms included in the ACA to try to spur innovations in care delivery that both improve health and generate long-term cost savings.
As the COVID-19 pandemic affects healthcare in unprecedented ways, affordable healthcare access is critical. This RSF journal issue offers a timely, thoughtful consideration of one of the most pressing issues in American life. 

Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter