Research

Below is an overview of my research projects, including published articles, works under review, and working papers.

Peer-reviewed publications

"The Mask of Neutrality: Judicial Partisan Calculation and Legislative Redistricting," forthcoming in Law & Policy.

"Packing the Courts: Ideological Proximity and Expansions to the Federal Judiciary from 1937 to 2012" (with Elli Menounou, Adam Feldman, and Thora Giallouri), Journal of Law & Courts 7(1): 81-106 (2019).

"Their Boot in Our Face No Longer? Administrative Sectionalism and Resistance to Federal Authority in the U.S. South" (with Nicholas G. Napolio), State Politics & Policy Quarterly 19(1): 101-122 (2019).

"All Their Eggs in One Basket? Ideological Congruence in Congress and the Bicameral Origins of Concentrated Delegation to the Bureaucracy", Laws 7(2): 1-15 (2018).

"Letting Down the Ladder or Shutting the Door: Female Prime Ministers, Party Leaders, and Cabinet Members" (with Diana Z. O'Brien, Matthew Mendez, and Jihyun Shin), Politics & Gender 11(4): 689-717 (2015).

Public scholarship

"In the South, it’s not just state politicians who work against federal policies. It’s the bureaucrats too" (with Nicholas G. Napolio). London School of Economics US Centre American Politics & Policy Blog, available at https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2019/02/08/in-the-south-its-not-just-state-politicians-who-work-against-federal-policies-its-the-bureaucrats-too/

 

"Concentrating implementation: How ideological agreement between the House and Senate affects delegation to the bureaucracy." LegBranch.com Blog, available at http://www.legbranch.com/theblog/2018/6/5/concentrating-implementation-how-ideological-agreement-between-the-house-and-senate-affects-delegation-to-the-bureaucracy

"Partisanship Drives State Agencies' Response to Federal Regulation" (with Nicholas G. Napolio). The Regulatory Review, available at https://www.theregreview.org/2018/05/07/napolio-peterson-partisanship-state-agencies-resistance-federal-regulation/

"What persuades elected officials to remove Confederate symbols? Framing it as good for business" (with Christian R. Grose). The Washington Post - Monkey Cage, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/21/what-persuades-elected-officials-to-remove-confederate-symbols-framing-it-as-good-for-business/​

Working papers

"The Outer Limits of Neutrality in Quasi-Judicial Institutions: Private Financial Interests and Decision-Making on the National Labor Relations Board."

Abstract: Do private financial interests inhibit neutral bureaucratic decision-making in federal agencies?  I theorize that bureaucratic agents engage in strategic behavior based on their personal asset allocations when deciding crucial issues of public policy.  I examine the role played by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Members’ private financial interests in their approach to the adjudication of disputes in industrial relations.  There are two competing theoretical expectations regarding the effect of Members’ personal financial interests on their adjudicatory decisions.  I expect that Members’ ownership interests in firms from particular economic sectors will result in either (1) a long-term precedent creation strategy involving the creation of Board precedent intended to shield future employer disputants in that sector from administrative intrusion; or (2) a short-term competitor punishment strategy in which they support increased administrative scrutiny into organizational practices at competitor firms from sectors in which they own stock in order to reinforce the financial wellbeing of those firms in which the Member has a personal interest.  Empirically, I leverage an institutional feature of the NLRB that functions as a natural field experiment of political elites: the random assignment of three-member panels to the labor disputes that reach the NLRB.  I find that Board Members engage in competitor punishment when adjudicating labor disputes.  This study is normatively important, as it suggests that personal financial interests – and not simply bureaucratic neutrality – affect administrative agency decisions.  Methodologically, this is one of the few true natural field experiments where bureaucrats are randomly assigned to make public policy decisions.

"Prosecuting Policy: State Attorneys General and Ideological Opposition to Federal Agencies" (with Nicholas G. Napolio).

Abstract: Why do state officials oppose policies issued by federal administrative agencies? Is state attorney general opposition to federal administrative policy grounded in the ideology of the agency responsible for promulgating or implementing it? Using data from over thirty years, fifty states, and twenty-six federal agencies, we find that state attorneys general, regardless of their party, systematically oppose liberal federal agencies, particularly when the president is a Democrat. State attorneys general are about four times as likely to oppose liberal agencies than conservative agencies. We argue state attorneys general systematically oppose liberal federal agencies because liberal agencies tend to promulgate broad regulations and state attorneys general wish to preserve state policy sovereignty; and state attorneys general are, regardless of their party, fundamentally conservative, as they deliberately choose to run for an office dedicated to the pursuit of a “law and order” policy agenda through prosecutorial means, typically associated with political conservatism.

"White-Out: The Deregulation of Judicial Campaign Speech and the Nationalization of State Court Elections."

Abstract: Does the deregulation of political speech in judicial elections affect the character of contestation during judicial campaigns? And did the Supreme Court’s invalidation of prohibitions on political position-taking by judicial candidates in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White lead to nationalization of state supreme court election outcomes? I argue that removing regulations on speech by judicial candidates escalated nationalization by ceasing to prohibit candidates from communicating partisan and ideological preferences to voters, and that the effects of deregulation were likely pronounced in states with partisan state court elections. Using data from all states that elected their state supreme court from 1990-2010, I find that outcomes after White converge with the results of national elections in states with partisan supreme court elections. This suggests that the judiciary can function as a coequal partner in designing the contours of democratic competition in the American states by participating in election administration, if indirectly.

Texas Christian University

Department of Political Science

TCU Box 297021

Fort Worth, TX 76129