Michael J. Nelson


 

Research

I study the power of courts in democracies, especially the United States. Courts are uniquely reliant on public support in democracies because they generally cannot renew their support at the ballot box. Instead, they must rely the public's willingness to ascribe them legitimacy in order to ensure compliance with their decisions and to protect them from interbranch assaults. And, where judges stand for election, voters provide judges with an independent source of power; they are freed to overturn legislative and executive actions because they can depend on the public to protect them against reprisal from the other branches of government. I use observational, survey, text analytic, and experimental methods, leveraging variation within and across individuals and institutions to understand how the public's support for courts and the institutional design of the judiciary together affect judicial power and behavior. My research has been supported by both the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Books

James L. Gibson and Michael J. Nelson. 2021. Judging Inequality. New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press, Forthcoming.

Christina L. Boyd, Michael J. Nelson, Ian Ostrander, and Ethan Boldt. 2021. The Politics of Federal Prosecution. New York: Oxford University Press.

James L. Gibson and Michael J. Nelson. 2018. Black and Blue: African Americans and Legal Legitimacy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Michael J. Nelson and Christopher Witko. 2022. "The Economic Costs of Democratic Backsliding? Backsliding and State Location Preferences of U.S. Job-seekers." Forthcoming Journal of Politics. [Paper]

Michael J. Nelson and Morgan L.W. Hazelton, and Rachael K. Hinkle. 2021. "How Interpersonal Contact Affects Appellate Review." Forthcoming Journal of Politics. [Paper]

Michael J. Nelson and Patrick Tucker. 2021. "The Stability and Durability of the U.S. Supreme Court's Legitimacy." Forthcoming Journal of Politics. [Paper]

Zachary Baumann, Michael J. Nelson, and Markus Neumann. 2021. "Party Competition and Policy Liberalism." Forthcoming State Politics and Policy Quarterly. [Paper]

Rachael K. Hinkle, Michael J. Nelson, and Morgan L.W. Hazelton. 2020. "Deferring, Deliberating, or Dodging Review: Explaining Counterjudge Success in the US Courts of Appeals." Journal of Law and Courts 8(2): 277-300. [Paper]

Michael J. Nelson and Christopher Witko. 2020. "Government Reputational Effects of COVID-19 Public Health Actions: A Job Opportunity Evaluation Conjoint Experiment." Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 3(1). [Paper]

Michael J. Nelson and James L. Gibson. 2020. "Measuring Subjective Ideological Disagreement With the U.S. Supreme Court." Journal of Law and Courts 8(1): 75-94. [Paper]

Michael J. Nelson and James L. Gibson. 2019. "How Does Hyper-Politicized Rhetoric Affect the U.S. Supreme Court's Legitimacy?" Journal of Politics 81(4): 1512-1516. [Paper]

Charles Crabtree and Michael J. Nelson. 2019. "Judging Judicial Review in the American States." Forthcoming in State Politics and Policy Quarterly. [Paper]

Amanda Driscoll and Michael J. Nelson. 2019. "Chronicle of an Election Foretold: The 2017 Bolivian Judicial Elections." PolĂ­tica y Gobierno 26(1): Forthcoming.

Rachael K. Hinkle and Michael J. Nelson. 2018. "How to Lose Cases and Influence People." Forthcoming in Statistics, Politics, and Policy. [Paper] [Profiled on SCOTUSBlog].

Rachael K. Hinkle and Michael J. Nelson. 2018. "The Intergroup Foundations of Policy Influence." Forthcoming in Political Research Quarterly. [Paper]

Michael J. Nelson and Rachael K. Hinkle. 2018. "Crafting the Law: How the Text of a Judicial Opinion Influences Legal Development." Forthcoming at Justice System Journal. [Paper]

Michael J. Nelson and Alicia Uribe. 2017. "Opportunity and Overrides: The Effect of the Court's Public Support on Congressional Policymaking." Political Research Quarterly. 70(3): 632-643 [Paper]

James L. Gibson and Michael J. Nelson. 2017. "Reconsidering Positivity Theory: What Roles do Politicization, Ideological Disagreement, and Legal Realism Play in Shaping U.S. Supreme Court Legitimacy?" Forthcoming at Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 14(3): 592-617. [Paper]

Charles Crabtree and Michael J. Nelson. 2017. "plotrr: Functions for Making Visual Exploratory Data Analysis with Nested Data Easier." Journal of Open Source Software. [Paper]

Charles Crabtree and Michael J. Nelson. 2017. "New Evidence for a Positive Relationship Between De Facto Judicial Independence and State Respect for Empowerment Rights." International Studies Quarterly 61(1): 210-224. [Paper]

Rachael K. Hinkle and Michael J. Nelson. 2016. "The Transmission of Legal Precedent among State Supreme Courts in the Twenty-First Century." State Politics and Policy Quarterly 16(4): 391-410. [Article]

Gibson, James L. and Michael J. Nelson. 2016. "Change in Institutional Support for the U.S. Supreme Court: An Analysis of the Effects of Disappointment in the Court's Rulings." Public Opinion Quarterly 80(3): 622-641. [Article]

Michael J. Nelson and Ian Ostrander. 2016. "Keeping Appointments: The Politics of Confirming U.S. Attorneys." Justice System Journal 37(3):211-231. [Article]

Driscoll, Amanda and Michael J. Nelson. 2015. "Judicial Selection and the Democratization of Justice: Lessons from the Bolivian Judicial Elections." Journal of Law and Courts 3(1):115-148. [Article]

Gibson, James L. and Michael J. Nelson. 2015. "Is the U.S. Supreme Court's Legitimacy Grounded in Performance Satisfaction and Ideology?" American Journal of Political Science 59(1):162-174. [Article]

Gibson, James L. and Michael J. Nelson. 2014. "The Legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court: Conventional Wisdoms, and Recent Challenges Thereto." Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences 10(1): 201-19. [Draft]

Driscoll, Amanda and Michael J. Nelson. 2015. "Ignorance or Opposition?: Blank and Spoiled Votes in Low-Information, Highly Politicized Environments." Political Research Quarterly 67(3):547-561. [Article]

Michael J. Nelson. 2014. "Responsive Justice? Public Opinion and the Criminal Justice System." Journal of Law and Courts 2(1):117-152. [Article]

Michael J. Nelson, Rachel Paine Caufield, and Andrew D. Martin. 2013. "OH, MI: On Empirical Examinations of Judicial Elections." State Politics and Policy Quarterly. 13:495-511. [Article]

Driscoll, Amanda and Michael J. Nelson. 2013. "The Political Origins of Judicial Elections: Evidence from the United States and Bolivia." Judicature 96:151-160. [Article]

Nelson, Michael J. 2011. "Uncontested and Unaccountable? Rates of Contestation in Trial Court Elections." Judicature 10:208-217.
[Article]   [Replication Archive]