Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Clara Altman - History, Brandeis University

Project: Courtroom Colonialism: Philippine Law and U.S. Rule, 1898-1935

Altman photo

Fellowship year: 2013

Mentor: Mary Dudziak, Emory University

Clara Altman is the Director of the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center.

In that capacity, she works to promote the preservation of the history of the federal courts and the federal judiciary in a variety of ways.  In particular, the Federal Judicial History Office develops programs relating to the history of the judicial branch and assists federal courts with their own judicial history programs.

Altman earned a B.A. in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, and a Ph.D. in American History from Brandeis University.  She was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought at Amherst College.  Her scholarly work concerns legal history and the U.S. in the world with a focus on U.S. engagement with foreign legal cultures and institutions from the nineteenth century to the present. Her dissertation, “Courtroom Colonialism: Philippine Law and U.S. Rule, 1898-1935” is a historical account of the development of the Philippine legal system under U.S. rule between the occupation of the islands and the start of the Philippine Commonwealth.  The project was based in archival research in English and Spanish language sources in the Philippines and the United States and was supported by grants from the American Historical Association, Bentley Library at the University of Michigan, and the Mellon Foundation, in addition to the Miller Center. Altman has also written on the state of the field of legal history.  In her chapter, “The International Context: An Imperial Perspective on American Legal History,” in A Companion to American Legal History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) Altman proposes a new, global framework for the field, emanating from three categories of analysis: the constitutional order, the international order, and what some scholars have called “legal borderlands."


Sean Beienburg - Politics, Princeton University

Project: Constitutional Resistance in the States, 1880–2010

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Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: John Dinan, Wake Forest College

Sean Beienburg is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University.

Beienburg's teaching and research interests include the U.S. Constitution and constitutional law, American political development and thought, federalism, parties and interest groups, and Prohibition.

His dissertation examined how states’ rights claims and efforts to evade, ignore, and resist federal constitutional development played an increasingly central role in the political climate. He questioned whether such state activity was a normal part of American political development or a dangerous aberration recalling the divisions before the Civil War. He analyzed whether such efforts were primarily the seeds of Southern resistance to racial integration or had a more honorable, broader legacy. Beienburg sought to understand such developments by providing an account of state constitutional resistance since 1880. In short, this project aimed to better understand the historical legacy of state participation in constitutional politics in order to make sense of its current manifestations.

Selected Recent Publications

"The People Against Themselves: Rethinking Popular Constitutionalism." Law and Social Inquiry 41, no. 1 (Feb 2016)

"Contesting the U.S. Constitution through State Amendments." Political Science Quarterly 129, no. 1 (March 2014): 55-85.


Carl Bon Tempo - History, University of Virginia

Project: The Politics of American Refugee Policy, 1952–1980

Bon Tempo photo

Carl Bon Tempo is Associate Professor of History at the State University New York, Albany.

Bon Tempo's work explores the links between domestic political history and America’s role in the world. He maintains a particular focus on the histories of refugees, immigration, and human rights.

Bon Tempo wrote his dissertation on the formation and implementation of the American government's policies toward refugees between 1952 and 1980, arguing that the study of refugee policies provides an opportunity to examine how Americans (in and out of government) conceived of citizenship and "American-ness" in the post-World War II era – and that these conceptions vitally influenced the intent and character of specific refugee policies and programs. He displayed that post-World War II era American refugee policies and laws, and the contentious deliberations that produced them, resembled the larger debates about citizenship and national identity occurring during that period.

Selected Recent Publications

Americans at the Gate: The United States and Refugees During the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2008).

From the Center-Right: Freedom House and Human Rights in the 1970s and 1980s” in  Petra Goedde and William Hitchcock, eds, The Human Rights Revolution: An International History,  (New York: Oxford University Press, January 2012).

American Exceptionalism and Modern Immigration History in the United States.” in Jamey Carson and Sylvia Soderlind, eds., American Exceptionalisms (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, December, 2011.)


Ananda Burra - History, University of Michigan

Project: "Petitioning the Mandates: Anticolonial and Antiracist Publics in International Law"

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Fellowship year: 2017

Mentor: Robert Vitalis, University of Pennsylvania

Burra has been selected as the Charles W. McCurdy Fellow in Legal History

Drawing on an interdisciplinary training in law and history, Ananda Burra’s dissertation is the first systematic legal-historical study of how transnational anticolonial and antiracist solidarity movements shaped the international law of individual protection and colonial rule in the mid-20th century. In particular, this dissertation examines how anticolonial activists, colonial officials, and members of the newly-formed international bureaucracy in the League of Nations and the United Nations negotiated a language of grassroots international protest, one based around the practice of individuals petitioning international organizations about colonial abuse. African American activists were particularly active in this field, framing their involvement in the Mandates as a protest against racial discrimination, turning a mirror on the United States’ own racial politics. Petitioning in the interwar and immediate post-war years thus shows us how inter-continental forms of protest could be deployed in fighting what States saw as primarily local battles. These battles spanned the period from 1920 until at least 1956, when the International Court of Justice engaged with the history and jurisprudence of the individual right to petition in international law. As such, Burra’s work engages historiographical debates in global history, histories of international institutions and human rights, histories of transnational social movements and decolonization, and histories of the United States in the world. By focusing on the role of non-State actors in international institutions, Burra’s dissertation also questions the consensus on the minor role played by non-white actors in international law-making before and immediately after the Second World War.


Jenny Diamond Cheng - Political Science, University of Michigan

Project: Are Children Citizens?: The Minimum Voting Age and Liberal Democratic Citizenship

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Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Carol Sanger, Columbia Law School

Jenny Diamond Cheng is a Lecturer in Law at Vanderbilt University’s Law School.

Cheng's research focuses on the intersection of law and political theory. Her doctoral dissertation addressed the question: Given their disenfranchisement, to what extent does it still make sense to think of children as "citizens"? Her research focused on political discussions of the minimum voting age from 1942 to the present. The decades in and after World War II witnessed a quiet but persistent movement to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18, which gathered steam in the late 1960s and culminated with the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971. A close reading of the debates about the voting age over the last six decades reveals competing ideas about the meaning of the franchise and profound confusion about children's place in the polity. In her dissertation, Cheng explored the theoretical links between voting, military service, and education while additionally examining how advocates for lower voting ages have sought to frame youth as the natural heirs to the women's suffrage and African-American civil rights movements.

Selected Recent Publications

"Leave the Voting Age Alone.New York Times, 28 May 2012.


Sarah Coleman - History, Princeton University

Project: Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century

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Sarah Coleman’s dissertation “Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century,” explores how politicians, activists, citizens and the courts competed to define the rights of immigrant persons in the U.S. who did not have American citizenship status in the last quarter of the twentieth-century. With the passage of the landmark Hart-Celler Act in 1965, the United States entered a new era of immigration.  This period of massive immigration led to a fierce struggle, which has been at the heart of contemporary American political history, between activists who fought to ensure rights and benefits for these newcomers and those who opposed open borders and sought to limit the rights of immigrants.

Battles over education, health, welfare, and civil liberties were deeply influenced by this influx of immigration.  This phase in the longer struggle over the rights of immigrants began in the mid-1970s when a network of liberal activists, who had roots in the civil rights movement, successfully fought in the courts to expand the rights of non-citizens to include protection from workplace discrimination, the benefits of the welfare state, and the right to education and other social services. Coleman’s dissertation then looks at the politics of immigration policy that followed these revolutionary court decisions through to the early twenty first century.  In doing so, she traces the development of a movement, within both political parties, to limit the expansion of these rights.  She focuses on some of their success but also on the challenges and obstacles that they have encountered in rolling back the changes that took place since 1965.  

Selected Recent Publications

"Sorry, Trump. Ike's shameful program failed." CNN, November 12, 2015.


Jefferson Decker - History, Columbia University

Project: The Conservative Legal Movement and American Government, 1971–1987

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Fellowship year: 2008

Mentor: Daniel Ernst, Georgetown University Law Center

Jefferson Decker is Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University.

Decker writes about politics and government in twentieth-century America.  He is the author of The Other Rights Revolution: Conservative Lawyers and the Remaking of American Government (Oxford University Press, 2016) in which he illustrates how a series of legal battles over property rights and the regulatory state shaped the public ideas and policy agenda of modern U.S. conservatism.

His dissertation described the political mobilization of conservative lawyers and their attempt to reform and reshape American government. In the 1970s, conservative lawyers, political activists, and donors created a network of non-profit legal foundations in order to challenge liberalism in the courts. These groups took on a variety of cases, from challenging local land use regulations and offering a "pro-business" perspective on environmental disputes to challenging "sweetheart deals" between government agencies and liberal trial lawyers. In doing so, they sought to reassert principles of federalism and limited government, while restricting (or rolling back) the regulatory state. After Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, veterans of these firms took jobs in the new administration, where they had an opportunity to rework some of the policies they had litigated from inside the government. In describing this journey from outsiders to policymakers, this dissertation described the evolution of public policy and conservative ideas about the law during the Reagan era.

Selected Recent Publications

The Other Rights Revolution: Conservative Lawyers and the Remaking of American Government. (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Legal Conservatism.” in Oxford University Encyclopedia of American Political, Policy, and Legal History (Oxford University Press, 2011)


Maxine Eichner - Political Science, University of North Carolina

Project: Reinstating Family: Rethinking the Relationship Between the Family and the State

Eichner photo

Fellowship year: 2002

Mentor: Molly Shanley, Vassar College

Maxine Eichner is Reef C. Ivey II Professor of Law at University of North Carolina School of Law.

Her teaching and research interests include sex equality, family law, legal theory and torts. She writes on issues of liberal theory, feminist theory, and family law. Eichner's recent scholarship focuses on the stance that the state should take with respect to family ties among citizens. Eichner received a B.A. and a J.D. from Yale University (where she was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal), before pursuing her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina. She held a Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship through Georgetown Law School, and clerked for Judge Louis Oberdorfer in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, as well as for Judge Betty Fletcher in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She practiced civil rights, women's rights, and employment law for several years at the law firm of Patterson, Harkavy, and Lawrence in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Eichner's dissertation, "Reinstating Family: Rethinking the Relationship Between the Family and the State," explored the relationship between state and family by examining the understandings of the family-state relationship embodied in three different areas of contemporary United States law. Specifically, she studied the intersection between parenting and the workplace, the state and federal laws delineated "family" and the laws governing the relationship among parents, children, and public schools. She argued that a more nuanced, richer understanding of the relationship between family and state should be incorporated into American law.

Selected Recent Publications

The Supportive State: Families, Government, and America's Political Ideals (Oxford University Press, 2010). 

"The New Child Abuse Panic." The New York Times, July 11, 2015.

"Market-Cautious Feminism." in Austin Sarat, ed. Special Issue: Feminist Legal Theory Studies, in Law, Politics and Society 69 (Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2016): 141 - 187.

"The Supportive State: Government, Dependency, and Responsibility for Caretaking." in Care Ethics and Political Theory (Oxford University Press, 2015).


Jack Epstein - History, Ohio University

Project: Behind the Menancing Racket: Organized Labor, Federal Anti-Racketeering Policy, and the Law and Order Origins of the Modern American State, 1927–1970

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Fellowship year: 2012

Mentor: Daniel Ernst, Georgetown University Law Center

Jack Epstein is an Instructor at Tulane University.

Epstein’s dissertation promises to recast the history of the New Deal state and its policy and political legacies, by exploring the emergence of federal racketeering laws. Conservatives up to the 1970s, he contends, used these mechanisms to undermine the New Deal state by fostering competition and resisting federal intervention in labor markets. Titled “Behind the Menacing Racket: Organized Labor, Federal Anti-Racketeering Policy, and the Law and Order Origins of the Modern American State, 1927-1970,” Epstein’s project challenges traditional assumptions about the development of political ideologies. 


Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo - Government, University of Virginia

Project: A Theory of Drug Control Policy in the Twentieth Century and the Success of Drug Law Reform in the 1990s

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Mark Landy, Boston College

Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo is Associate Professor of Political Science at James Madison University.

Ferraiolo's research agenda focuses primarily on direct democracy as a policymaking institution in the American states. Current projects examine state legislators’ response to successful initiatives, the federalism implications of direct democracy, and variations in state and federal approaches to morality policies including drug control and gambling. 

Ferraiolo's dissertation explained the success of medical marijuana initiatives and the willingness of a majority of Americans to reject an important component of federal drug policy. She began by placing the medical marijuana movement in the historical context of twentieth century federal drug control policy. Ferraiolo argued that the institutional locus of control over policy, the way the drug issue was framed, and the formulators and administrators of policy created a federal drug control regime that was highly resistant to fundamental reform. Further, she proposed that changes in these factors – a shift in institutional venue from the federal government to the states and the direct democracy process, a new way of framing drug policy debates that emphasized patient rights and compassion, and an alliance between marijuana activists and political campaign professionals who had the resources to challenge the federal government – helped bring about policy change.

Selected Recent Publications

"Selective Media Exposure and Partisan Differences about Sarah Palin's Candidacy.” with David A. Jones and Jennifer Byrne, Politics & Policy 39, no. 2 (April 2011): 195-221


Beth A. Freeborn - Economics, University of Virginia

Project: Drug Laws and the Market for Cocaine

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Fellowship year: 2003

Mentor: Peter Reuter, University of Maryland

Beth Freeborn is an Economist at the Bureau of Economics at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Freeborn was previously Assistant Professor of Economics at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg where she taught courses on Microeconomics and Industrial Organization. Her research focuses on industrial organization, applied microeconomics, economics of crime and econometrics.

Freeborn's dissertation was an economic study of the market for powder and crack cocaine using data collected from the Drug Enforcement Agency from 1984 to 2001. She examined how drug dealers make decisions regarding what type of cocaine package to produce. The benefit to dealers is the total revenue they receive from the packages they sell, and the cost to dealers is both the monetary cost of purchasing the wholesale cocaine and the legal penalty if they are caught selling cocaine. These legal penalties vary greatly by state, providing different incentives to dealers based on geographical location. This project created and estimated a model of the market for cocaine. This model can then be utilized to analyze a number of different public policy questions.

Selected Recent Publications

"Determinants of Tacit Collusion in a Cournot Duopoly Experiment." with Lisa R. Anderson and Jason P. Hulbert, Southern Economic Journal 81, no. 3 (January 2015): 633-652.

"Report to Congress Under Section 319 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003." with Julie Miller, Federal Trade Commission (2015)

"Accuracy of Information Maintained by U.S. Credit-Bureaus: Frequency of Errors and Effects on Consumers' Credit Scores." with L. Douglas Smith et al.  Journal of Consumer Affairs 47, no. 3 (2013): 588-601.

"Competition and Crowding-Out in the Market for Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment." with Andrew Cohen and Brian McManus, International Economic Review 54, no. 1 (2013): 159-184.


Judge Glock - History, Rutgers University

Project: “The Search for a Balanced Economy: The Origins of Federal Intervention in the Mortgage Market, 1916-1960”

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Visiting Assistant Professor

Judge Glock is currently a visiting assistant professor at the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. Glock's research focuses on American Economic History and the history of central banking and money. His work explores the origins of lender of last resort functions, the development of mortgage markets and the creation of government-sponsored enterprises (GSE). He also works on the history of monetary thought.

Glock earned his PhD in American History at Rutgers University, where his research focused on the political and financial history of the early 20th century. Before coming to Rutgers, Glock did historical research on Native American and environmental affairs for the Department of Justice and taught English in China. He received both his B.A. and M.A. in history from the College of William and Mary, where he completed a thesis on the electric streetcar and urban real estate in Richmond, Virginia.

Glock’s dissertation investigates how and why the federal government became involved in the mortgage market beginning in the 1910s. He hopes to show that a desire for “economic balance” between different sectors, such as agriculture and industry, led the government to create a series of implicitly-guaranteed but nominally private financial corporations, such as the Federal Land Banks, the Federal Home Loan Banks, and Fannie Mae, which could subsidize mortgages in supposedly backward areas of the economy. In practice, however, these corporations focused less on balancing economic sectors than on protecting the financial system and ensuring its overall liquidity. He has presented his work at numerous national conferences, where he most recently discussed the long-term interest rate in the theories of John Maynard Keynes, and the effect of the Federal Housing Administration on American cities. He recently reviewed Matthew Gordon Lasner's book High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century, for Planning Perspectives.

Selected Recent Publications

"The Roots of Government Meddling in Mortgages," The Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2014.


Joanna Grisinger - History, University of Chicago

Project: Reforming the State: Reorganization and the Federal Government, 1937–1964

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Fellowship year: 2003

Mentor: Dan Carpenter, Harvard University

Joanna Grisinger is Senior Lecturer in the Legal Studies Program at Northwestern University.

Grisinger works in twentieth-century U.S. legal and political history, with a focus on the modern administrative state. 

In her dissertation, Joanna demonstrated that the period beginning in 1937 was a significant era of government reform of the structures and procedure of the federal government. The procedural reforms of the time created an entirely new administrative framework and system of governance. Her dissertation examined how the federal government developed an uneasy compromise with administrative agencies and administrative forms in this era, and how these organizational and procedural changes influenced the policies that emerged from this new system of democratic governance.

Selected Recent Publications

The Unwieldy American State: Administrative Politics since the New Deal (Cambridge University Press, 2012).


Shelley L. Hurt - Political Science, The New School for Social Research

Project: Institutionalizing Food Power: U.S. Foreign Policy, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Industry, 1972–1994

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Ronnie Lipschutz, University of California, Santa Cruz

Shelley L. Hurt is Assistant Professor of Political Science Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Hurt teaches courses on Biological and Chemical Arms Control and Development, Security Studies in Global Perspective, Science, Technology, Power and Politics, War, Trade, and American Political development. Her research interests include U.S. foreign policy, science and technology policy, security studies, international law and organizations, globalization, and American political development.

Hurt's dissertation investigated U.S. policymakers' use of the market and law, domestically and internationally, to foster a favorable climate for the agricultural biotechnology industry. She hypothesized that this state strategy evolved in response to declining U.S. hegemony in the early 1970s when the pressure of international competition became a paramount concern for U.S. officials. Subsequently, food came to be seen as a fundamental national resource with the potential to propel the U.S. back into an undisputed hegemonic position. She argued that in response to this geopolitical pressure, U.S. policymakers and courts enacted a complex set of legal rules and regulations to create the conditions for this industry to flourish. The culmination of these domestic policies led to U.S. insistence on incorporating the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Selected Recent Publications

Hybrid Rule and State Formation: Public-Private Power in the 21st Century. with Ronnie D. Lipschutz, eds. (Routledge Press, 2015)

"Military's Hidden Hand: Understanding the Origins of Biotechnology in the American Context, 1969-1972." in State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development, Fred Block and Matthew Keller, eds (Colorado: Paradigm Publishers, 2011).


Ajay Mehrotra - History, University of Chicago

Project: Creating the Modern American Fiscal State: The Political Economy of U.S. Tax Policy, 1880–1930

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Fellowship year: 2002

Mentor: Elliot Brownlee, University of California, Santa Barbara

Ajay Mehrotra is director of the American Bar Foundation

Ajay K. Mehrotra is currently director of the American Bar Foundation.  He is a legal scholar whose research focuses on the history of American law and political economy, and the relationship between taxation and state formation in historical and comparative contexts.  

Prior to his ABF Directorship, Ajay Mehrotra was Professor of Law and Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. From 2012-2015, he also served as the school's associate dean for research. He was also an adjunct Professor of History at Indiana University and an Affiliated Faculty member of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis.  From 2007-2011, he was Co-director (with Michael Grossberg) of the Indiana University Center for Law, Society & Culture.  Mehrotra was previously a Doctoral Fellow at the American Bar Foundation while completing his Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. He received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan. After law school and prior to his graduate training in history, Mehrotra was an associate in the Structured Finance Department in the New York offices of J.P. Morgan.

Mehrotra's writings have appeared in student-edited law reviews and interdisciplinary journals including Law & Social Inquiry, Law & History Review, and Law & Society Review.  His scholarship and teaching have been supported by grants and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

Selected Recent Publications

Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

"Charles A. Beard and the Columbia School of Political Economy: Revisiting the Intellectual Roots of the Beardian Thesis." Articles by Maurer Faculty, Paper 1311 (2014)

From Seligman to Shoup: The Early Columbia School of Taxation and Development.” in W. Elliot Brownlee, Yasunori Fukagai & Eisaku Ide, eds., The Political Economy of Transnational Tax Reform: The Shoup Mission to Japan in Historical Context (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
From Programmatic Reform to Social Science Research: The National Tax Association and the Promise and Perils of Disciplinary Encounters.” with J. Thorndike, Law & Society Review 45, no. 3 (2011): 593-630.


Christopher Schmidt - History of American Civilization, Harvard University

Project: Postwar Liberalism and the Origins of Brown v. Board of Education

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Michael Klarman, Harvard University Law School

Christopher W. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States (ISCOTUS) at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent.

Schmidt teaches in the areas of constitutional law, legal history, comparative constitutional law, and sports law. He has written on a variety of topics, including the political and intellectual context surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the Tea Party as a constitutional movement, how Supreme Court Justices communicate with the American people, the Supreme Court's decision in the health care case, and the rise of free agency in Major League Baseball. He is currently writing a book on the legal history of the student lunch counter sit-in movement of 1960.

Schmidt's dissertation followed the genesis of the 20th century American Civil Rights movement. Prior to the 1940s, the United States government had done little to promote racial equality for well over half a century, yet by the mid-1950s this situation was transformed, creating the foundations on which the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s would be built. Schmidt's dissertation explained the dramatic policy shift by analyzing the origins of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 school desegregation opinion. His project's central motivating question: why did the nine justices of the Supreme Court, whose political and ideological affinities varied considerably, decide to make, at this time and place, a statement against blatant legalized racial discrimination? His answer to this question drew on the context of liberal thought and culture in early postwar America as well as the particular legal issues confronted by the justices. Currently, Schmidt is revising his dissertation, "Creating Brown v. Board of Education: Ideology and Constitutional Change, 1945-1955," for publication.

Selected Recent Publications

"Divided by Law: The Sit-Ins and the Role of the Courts in the Civil Rights Movement." Law and History Review (November 2013).


Sarah Seo - History, Princeton University

Project: The Fourth Amendment, Cars, and Freedom in Twentieth-Century America

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Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: David Sklansky, Stanford Law School

Seo has been selected as the Charles W. McCurdy Fellow in Legal History.

Most scholars have explained the development of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence in the twentieth century as an enduring struggle to limit the police’s discretionary authority to protect individual rights. But by beginning her inquiry with the automobile in American society—one of the most contested sites of the Fourth Amendment, yet the least studied—Seo’s show that the evolution in the law of searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment reflected the more difficult challenge of accommodating the police within the meaning of freedom itself. The mass production of the automobile created the greatest urban disorder at the turn of the century, and the state’s power to regulate the social chaos of the automotive society increasingly encompassed a proactive, discretionary form of policing. Seo’s project traces the implications of this shift in governance from nineteenth-century self-regulation to twentieth-century policing through Fourth Amendment car search-and-seizure cases. By prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, the Fourth Amendment governed the first point of encounters between individuals and the police. And in the twentieth century, most of those encounters happened in the context of a traffic stop. Car stops and searches thus offer an important perspective not only on how the citizen-police relationship has evolved, but also on how Americans have wrestled with the paradox of discretionary policing in a society committed to the rule of law. Ultimately, the resolution entailed a change in what it meant to live in a free society. 


Katherine Unterman - History, Yale University

Project: Nowhere to Hide: International Rendition and American Power

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Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: Elizabeth Cobbs, Stanford UniversityTexas A&M University

Katherine Unterman is Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University.

Katherine Unterman received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2011. She also holds a Masters in Legal Studies from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from Harvard University. Dr. Unterman began teaching at Texas A&M University in Fall 2011. She specializes in 19th century U.S. history, American foreign relations, and legal history. Her book manuscript, Nowhere to Hide: International Fugitives and American Power, examines the history of international manhunts and the pursuit of fugitive criminals.

Covering the 1850s through the 1930s, Unterman's dissertation chronicled the international rendition of fugitives as both a set of practices that reached American power across borders, and the cultural ideas that justified it. With extensive research on extradition, international law, and criminology, she traces the evolving mechanics of international manhunts—the treaties, technologies, and procedures that enabled American law to reach beyond its borders. Equally important, she also analyzes jurisdiction as discourse: a set of ideas and representations of a shrinking world, where someone who broke American law had nowhere to hide. She argues that law needs to be considered alongside military and economic power as a tool of U.S. informal imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century. Bridging domestic and international history, she explains how Americans downplayed the question of other nations' sovereignty by treating international policing as a matter of maintaining law and order at home. These late-nineteenth-century precedents were eventually institutionalized by government agencies like the FBI and DEA, and have even been used to justify the practice of extraordinary rendition today.

Selected Recent Publications

Uncle Sam’s Policemen: The Pursuit of Fugitives Across Borders. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015)

Boodle over the Border: Embezzlement and the Crisis of International Mobility, 1880-1890.Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 11, no. 2 (April 2012).


Derek Webb - Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Project: Paving the Rights Infrastructure: Civic Education in the Presidencies of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt

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Fellowship year: 2007

Mentor: William Galston, The Brookings Institution

Derek Webb is Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University

Webb joined the Constitutional Law Center as a fellow in 2012.  He works in the fields of constitutional law, statutory interpretation, American political theory, and legal history.  His publications include articles in Law and History Review, the American Journal of Legal History, and the South Carolina Law Review, as well as a co-authored book about Anti-Federalists in New York.  Derek is the winner of the Warren E. Burger Prize from the American Inns of Court and the William B. Spong Moot Court Tournament at William and Mary Law School.  After receiving his B.A. in philosophy from Yale University, he earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Georgetown University.  He has held research and teaching fellowships at the University of Virginia and Princeton University and summer clerkships in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  In 2014 and 2015, Derek was a Supreme Court Fellowship in the Office of the Counselor to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

Through a comparative study of civic education in the presidencies of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, Webb extended and challenged the role of "liberal virtues" in American politics. In his dissertation, Webb extended the thesis that liberalism requires a range of civic virtues. Webb showed how different kinds of rights have required fundamentally different kinds of citizen virtue for their support. Challenging the thesis that liberalism embodies a comprehensive and self-sustaining conception of the good life, Webb showed how liberal ends have occasionally been achieved through reliance upon the moral ideals of complementary yet distinct non-liberal traditions.

Selected Recent Publications

Fitting Together Uneven Planks: The Constitution and the Spirit of Compromise, Constitution Daily, February 25, 2013.

Doubting a Little of One's Infallibility: The Real Miracle at Philadelphia, Constitution Daily, January 18, 2013.

The "Spirit of Amity": The Constitution's Cover Letter and Civic Friendship, Constitution Daily, December 13, 2012.


Justin Wert - Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Project: The Not-So-Great Writ: Habeas Corpus & American Political Development

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Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University

Justin Wert is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma

His research interests include Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, American Political Development and American Political Thought. 

In Wert's dissertation, he analyzed the institutional development of Habeas Corpus law in four time periods: ante-bellum slave law; Reconstruction; the 20th century debates over the applicability ("Incorporation") of the Bill of Rights to the states; and habeas corpus during war, particularly the current prosecution of the "War on Terror." The writ of habeas corpus – "The most important human right in the Constitution" according to Zecharia Chafee – must be re-examined in the 21st century according to its etymological roots. Wert argued that habeas corpus has always been inextricably linked to shifting notions of American citizenship, moving from state to national, and then again to state conceptions of citizenship, with the respect to meaningful access to the "Great Writ." The origins of this divide can be found in the enduring, yet shifting, conceptions of state versus national citizenship in the American state.

Selected Recent Publications

Habeas Corpus in America: The Politics of Individual Rights (University Press of Kansas, 2011).

The Rise and Fall of the Voting Rights Act. with Charles S. Bullock, III & Keith Gaddie (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)

"Benedick v. Beatrice: Citizens United and the Reign of the Laggard Court." with Charles S. Bullock and Ronald Keith Gaddie, Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy (Spring 2011).

With a Little Help from a Friend: Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta After Runnymede.” PS: Political Science and Politics (2010)


Emily Zackin - Politics, Princeton University

Project: Positive Rights in the Constitutions of the United States

Zackin photo

Fellowship year: 2009

Mentor: Tom Burke, Wellesley College

Emily Zackin is Assistant Professor of Political Science at The Johns Hopkins University.

Zackin's research interests include constitutional law and civil liberties, American political and constitutional development, social movements, constitutional theory, and American political thought.  Her book Looking for Rights in All the Wrong Places: Why State Constitutions Contain America’s Positive Rights was published by Princeton University Press in 2013.

As a Miller Center fellow in 2008-09, Zackin's dissertation examined the long tradition of positive rights in American politics, focusing specifically on movements directed at amending state constitutions. She examined three movements from different historical periods (education rights, labor rights, and victims' rights), each of which resulted in widespread constitutional activism at the state level. Zackin argued that even if we accept the conventional distinction between positive and negative rights, the American constitutional tradition still includes positive rights. Her research demonstrated that, although state constitutions are more detailed and less enduring than the U.S. constitution, they are recognizably constitutional and trump both legislatures and courts, thereby allowing activists to mobilize around them to change government policy.

Selected Recent Publications

Looking for Rights in All the Wrong Places: Why State Constitutions Contain America's Positive Rights (Princeton University Press, 2013).

American Constitutional Exceptionalism Revisited” with Mila Versteeg, University of Chicago Law Review 81, no. 4 (Fall 2014): 1641-1707.

"Kentucky’s Constitutional Crisis and the Many Meanings of Judicial Independence.Studies in Law, Politics & Society 58 (2012): 73-99.

"What’s Happened to American Federalism?" (Review Essay) Polity 43, no. 3 (July 2011): 388–403.


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