Selected Work

"Ideological Congruity on State Supreme Courts." with Michael K. Romano. Justice Systems Journal (2018, forthcoming)

The methods of selection used to populate State Supreme Courts have led observers to question the effectiveness of these institutions to produce representative agents. We wish to know to what extent judicial ideology is constrained by citizens’ preferences, and what institution best controls judicial ideology in order to produce a representative court. We examine the fifty-two supreme courts from 1995 to 2005, focusing on how different selection methods impact the amount of ideological drift between citizens and the judiciary. We conclude that institutions that lack an explicit ideological cue, such as partisanship, or frequent electoral checks on judges insulate their courts from an ideological connection with the public.

"Strategic Retirements of Elected and Appointed Justices: A Hazard Model Approach." with Mark S. Hurwitz. The Journal of Politics (2016, 78:4)

Strategic accounts of judges usually consider various aspects of dispensation of cases. We look beyond these traditional areas of study in judicial politics to examine whether state supreme court justices render strategic retirement decisions. More specifically, we posit a dual theory of strategic retirements conditioned upon the institutional arrangements in which elected and appointed justices make retirement decisions. Employing an event history framework that analyzes the duration of state supreme court justices’ tenure and reason for departing the bench in the several selection and retention systems from 1980 to 2005, we show that elected and appointed justices engage in strategic retirement behavior but do so as a function of the diverse environments in which they operate. Our study implicates a number of theoretical, empirical, and normative issues regarding the selection and retention of state supreme court justices.

"Institutional Effects on the Careers of State Supreme Court Justices." with Mark S. Hurwitz. American Review of Politics (2016, 35:1)

We contend a direct connection exists between risk of removal from the bench and the length of judicial careers, as institutional mechanisms present varying but predictable degrees of risk to justices. Using event history modeling, we analyze the duration of judicial tenures and resultant levels of risk provided by selection methods. We demonstrate that justices in partisan elections have the shortest tenures and greatest risk of departure. By contrast, justices in the Missouri Plan evidenced the longest careers, offering a trivial amount of risk to justices. We show that the length of judicial careers are, in part, a function of the institutional design of selection and retention systems.

"A Look at the Bureaucratic Nature of the Office of the Solicitor General." Justice Systems Journal. (2015, 36:2)

The Office of the Solicitor General is structured as a bureaucracy in its own right as well as entrenched as part of the larger bureaucracy of the Department of Justice. Members of the Office of the Solicitor General have one of three designations: solicitor general, deputy solicitor general, or assistant to the solicitor general. The individuals who hold these titles experience different political and bureaucratic pressures. Taking into account this internal variation to the Office of the Solicitor General, I find that researchers have violated the assumption of unit homogeneity when grouping each of the types of attorneys together when analyzing the success of the institution before the Supreme Court. By disaggregating the different designations internal to the Office, I paint a clearer picture of the bureaucratic determinants of success for the attorneys before the Supreme Court.

"A Quantitative Analysis of Public Law Programs Revisited." Law & Courts Newsletter (2009, 19:2) Data Available Here.

It is difficult to rank programs in public law. Foremost, public law as a sub-field is not defined by a single dominant methodology; programs which examine jurisprudence are markedly different from those which examine judicial behavior. Second, measuring a quality such as prestige is problematic, as reasonable individuals can easily disagree with regards to what makes a quality program. Third, the ranking of public law programs contains a temporal component, making it complicated to assign a ranking when only looking at a particular snapshot in time. Finally, any ranking based only on one criterion contains a possible bias towards over inclusion of some programs over others. To this end, the following study attempts to form a ranking of public law programs based on what I consider to be objective criteria and takes into account the changing nature of the discipline over time. See also, "Author's Response: Ranking the Journals." Law & Courts Newsletter (2009, 19:3).

" Judicial Legitimacy Overcomes the First Amendment: Kraham v. Lippman" Justice Systems Journal (2008, 29:2)

Are regulations meant to protect the public perception of judicial legitimacy justified even when they may restrict an individual’s First Amendment rights of political association?  That question was the core issue in Kraham v. Lippman 478 F.3d 502 (2nd Cir. 2007), a Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit case stemming from a New York rule on appointment of fiduciaries wherein the Court held that the prohibition of party leaders and their law firms from receiving fiduciary appointments did not violate the First Amendment.  While the in Kraham Court never uses the term judicial legitimacy, its continued discussion of needing to improve the “public confidence in the judicial system” (at 506) clearly identifies this concept as the key issue in this case. In answering the question above, the Court in Kraham chose to side with judicial legitimacy at the expense of the First Amendment.

Contact Info.

I can be reached at (915)747-7967.

I can also be reached via e-mail: tacurry at

Follow me on Twitter @DrToddACurry