Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Dr. Salmon Shomade

Second Advisor

Dr. Christine Day

Third Advisor

Dr. Edward Chervenak


The Federalist Society was organized in 1982 by conservative law students to counteract what they perceived to be a liberal bias in law schools, the courts, and government administration. Forty years later there is an acknowledgement of a rightward turn in the Supreme Court which scholars have attributed in part to the efforts of the Federalist Society. However, there is still little understanding of just how that change came about. This dissertation takes a step toward understanding that question. Viewing the Federalist Society as the center of a network of lawyers, think tanks, and legal institutions, I examine the influence the Federalist Society Network has on voting rights and public sector unionization. I analyzed these cases - South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, 557 U.S. 193, and Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013) to assess the Federalist Society Network’s influence on voting rights. I also examined these additional cases - Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), Knox v. Service Employees International Union, 567 U.S. 298, (2012), Harris v. Quinn, 573 U.S. 616,(2014), and Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 585 U.S. (2018) to assess the impact the Federalist Society Network has on public sector union agency fees. I use content analysis to compare the themes asserted in petitioners’ and amicus curiae briefs with the themes expressed in the majority opinions in these cases. I find that the Federalist Society Network has influenced the majority opinions in these cases.


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