Friday, September 30, 2011

New in Law & Society Review

The new issue of Law & Society Review (September 2011) contains several articles that may be of interest to blog readers.

“No Hints, No Forecasts, No Previews”: An Empirical Analysis of Supreme Court Nominee Candor from Harlan to Kagan," by Dion Farganis (Elon University—Political Science) and Justin Wedeking (Kentucky—Political Science), covers the period 1950 through 2010 and challenges conventional wisdom about the confirmation process. The abstract follows and the full article is available to subscribers here.  

Criticism of Supreme Court confirmation hearings has intensified considerably over the past two decades. In particular, there is a growing sense that nominees are now less forthcoming and that the hearings have suffered as a result. In this article, we challenge that conventional wisdom. Based on a comprehensive content analysis of every question and answer in all of the modern confirmation hearings—nearly 11,000 in total—we find only a mild decline in the candor of recent nominees. Moreover, we find that senators ask more probing questions than in the past, and that nominees are now more explicit about their reasons when they choose not to respond—two factors that may be fueling the perception that evasiveness has increased in recent years. We close with a discussion of the normative implications of our findings as well as an outline for future research into this issue.

"From Programmatic Reform to Social Science Research: The National Tax Association and the Promise and Perils of Disciplinary Encounters" by Ajay K. Mehrotra (Indiana--Law) and Joseph J. Thorndike (Tax Analysts), may also be of interest. The abstract follows and the article is available here.
 This article uses the history of the National Tax Association (NTA), the leading twentieth-century organization of tax professionals, to strengthen our empirical understanding of the disciplinary encounter between law and the social sciences. Building on existing sociolegal scholarship, this article explores how the NTA embodied tax law's ambivalent historical interaction with public economics. Since its founding in 1907, the NTA has changed dramatically from an eclectic and catholic organization of tax professionals with a high public profile to an insular, scholarly association of mainly academic public finance economists. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative historical evidence, we contend that the transformation in the NTA's mission and output can be explained by the increasing professionalization and specialization of tax knowledge, and by the dominant role that public economics has played in shaping that knowledge. This increasing specialization allowed the NTA to secure its position as a bastion of scholarly tax research. But that achievement came at a cost to the organization's broader civic mission. This article is thus a historical account of how two competing professional disciplines—tax law and public economics—have interacted within a particular organizational field, namely the research and analysis of tax law and policy.

Finally, consider the abstract of "Politics, Prisons, and Law Enforcement: An Examination of the Emergence of “Law and Order” Politics in Texas," by Michael C. Campbell (Northern Illinois--Sociology). The article, which pivots on the period 1978-1989, is here.

This article examines the rise of “law and order” politics in Texas, providing an in-depth archival case study of changes in prison policy in a Southern state during the pivotal period when many U.S. states turned to mass incarceration. It brings attention to the important role an insurgent Republican governor and law enforcement officials played in shaping crime policy. Law enforcement's role is considered within a broader examination of political strategy during a period of intense socioeconomic volatility. The findings suggest that within particular political contexts, especially those with low levels of political participation, law enforcement agents might play a key role in shaping punishment.