(May 27, 2014)

Assistant Professor's research hits New York Times

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College of Louisiana's Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Christopher M. Parker was recently cited in a New York Times article For Justices, Free Speech Often Means Speech I Agree With which highlighted his collaborative research about judicial politics and decision making on the United States Supreme Court.

Christopher Parker
Dr. Christopher M. Parker, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Parker conducted the project, Do Justices Defend the Speech They Hate? along with Dr. Lee Epstein of Washington University in St. Louis and Dr. Jeffrey A. Segal of Stony Brook University. The study considered 4,519 votes in 516 judicial cases from 1953 to 2011 and found that political ideology influences Supreme Court voting.

"There has been some speculation that there has been a change in the traditional pattern of liberal justices supporting free speech and conservative justices allowing more restrictions," said Parker. "My coauthors and I wanted to look into the role of ideology in a little more depth and see if conservative justices are now more supportive of free speech or if this is just a consequence of the recent high profile free speech cases involving conservative causes."

The group has been working on their project for several years and plans to revise the cited paper for publication in a peer reviewed political science journal. In addition to the New York Times, The Economist and a legal blog, Concurring Opinions, have referenced their research.

"I think these findings are important in showing the ways in which ideology and politics can influence legal rulings, including cases dealing with rights as fundamental as free speech," said Parker. "They also highlight the degree to which the polarization we are seeing in other areas of politics has made its way to the Supreme Court. Given the close ideological split on the Court these results show that presidents can have an enormous impact on Supreme Court rulings through their appointment powers."

Parker has been on faculty at Centenary since 2011 and teaches courses in American Politics, including Contemporary Issues in Public Policy, the Presidency, Constitutional Law, Civil Rights and Liberties, Judicial Behavior and Politics, and Political Analysis, among others. His research is focused on judicial politics and decision making on the Supreme Court. His dissertation, Patterns and Consequences of Supreme Court Decision Making on Federalism Cases, focuses on the factors that influence Supreme Court rulings on the balance between state and federal authority, and in particular the role that a justice's ideology plays in their voting behavior. His other research interests are concerned more broadly with American political institutions.