Advocacy for the Powerless: How Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations Advance the Interests of the Unenfranchised

Advocacy organizations provide important policy representation for the nearly one-third of the population of the U.S. that lacks the right to vote – children, non-citizens, and people disenfranchised due to felony convictions or mental incapacity. Working on behalf of the unenfranchised poses unique challenges for these organizations. Existing scholarship fails to recognize these challenges and tends to treat all “public interest” or “citizens’ groups” as similar. This paper argues that unenfranchised people’s lack of traditional political power leads the advocacy organizations that represent them to prioritize different advocacy strategies than organizations representing other social groups. Using an original survey of nonprofit advocacy organizations, this paper finds evidence that advocacy organizations working on behalf of the unenfranchised allocate more of their policy efforts to media advocacy and litigation than do other interest groups.

Legislating at the Intersections: Race, Gender, and Representation with Beth Reingold and Rachel Harmon. Forthcoming in *Political Research Quarterly **.

Record numbers of women, and in particular women of color, are gaining elective office across the country. This article explores how their presence in legislative bodies might make a difference in policy agendas and legislative advocacy, especially at the intersections of race and gender. Leveraging original datasets of Democratic lawmakers and the bills they sponsor in fifteen U.S. state houses in 1997 and 2005, we examine multiple forms of race–gender policy leadership and how it is tied to legislators’ race–gender identity. Testing theories of intersectional representation, we find that women of color often are the most likely race–gender policy leaders. Indeed, our measures of race–gender policy leadership reveal the distinctive representational work of women of color, which traditional, single-axis measures of legislative activity on behalf of women or racial/ethnic minorities cannot.

Who Benefits from Religious Exemptions? The Politics of RLUIPA Cases in U.S. Federal Courts with Ben Hertzberg, Daniel Arnon, and Micah Swartzman

What are the effects of religious exemptions? Some claim that they empower adherents of majority religions, further privileging them. Others argue that where American public institutions are biased in favor of majority religions, exemptions enable adherents of minority religions to demand accommodation. We test these claims, and the possibility that religious exemption decisions are driven by judges’ ideological preferences, by considering the universe of religious exemptions cases adjudicated under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000. The data support those who see exemptions as protecting minority religions; adherents of a minority religion are ten percent more likely to win an exemption suit in federal courts. In contrast, bias in favor of majority religions and judicial ideology fail to explain these cases’ outcomes.

In Defense of the Black/White Binary: Reclaiming a Tradition of Civil Rights Scholarship with Roy L. Brooks, Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 12(1): 107-144.

Critical theorists have argued for the abandonment of Black/White binary – the idea that Black/White relations are central to our understanding of racial issues in American. We argue that the unique history of Black people in America warrants special attention in the study of law and policy, and that this special attention does not relegate other racial or ethnic groups to second class status.

Continuing the Evolution: Why California Should Amend Family Code Section 8616.5 to Allow Visitation in All Postadoption Contract Agreements San Diego Law Review 44(2): 355-386.

This Comment argues that California should continue the evolution of its statutory scheme by: (1) allowing and enforcing visitation terms in all adoption agreements that meet the statutory requirements of voluntariness and the best interests of the child, and (2) requiring that the consent process inform all birth parents of the possibility of these agreements. These changes were subsequently adopted by the California State Legislature.