front cover of Dead Laws for Dead Men
Dead Laws for Dead Men
The Politics of Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Legislation
Daniel J. Curran
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993
This account of the struggle for coal mine health and safety legislation in the U.S. examines the series of laws that steadily expanded the role of the federal government from the late 1800s through the 1980s. Curran concludes that federal legislation has done little to improve change conditions in the coal mines.

front cover of Deliberative Choices
Deliberative Choices
Debating Public Policy in Congress
Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk
University of Chicago Press, 2006
The task of deliberating public policy falls preeminently to Congress. But decisions on matters ranging from budget deficits to the war with Iraq, among others, raise serious doubts about its performance.  In Deliberative Choices, Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk assess congressional deliberation by analyzing debate on the House and Senate floors.  Does debate genuinely inform members of Congress and the public?  Or does it mostly mislead and manipulate them? 

Mucciaroni and Quirk argue that in fashioning the claims they use in debate, legislators make a strategic trade-off between boosting their rhetorical force and ensuring their ability to withstand scrutiny. Using three case studies—welfare reform, repeal of the estate tax, and telecommunications deregulation—the authors show how legislators’ varying responses to such a trade-off shape the issues they focus on, the claims they make, and the information they provide in support of those claims. 

Mucciaroni and Quirk conclude that congressional debate generally is only moderately realistic and informed. It often trades in half-truths, omissions, and sometimes even outright falsehoods. Yet some debates are highly informative.  Moreover, the authors believe it’s possible to improve congressional deliberation, and they recommend reforms designed to do so.

front cover of The Difference Women Make
The Difference Women Make
The Policy Impact of Women in Congress
Michele L. Swers
University of Chicago Press, 2002
What if there were more women in Congress? Providing the first comprehensive study of the policy activity of male and female legislators at the federal level, Michele L. Swers persuasively demonstrates that, even though representatives often vote a party line, their gender is politically significant and does indeed influence policy making.

Swers combines quantitative analyses of bills with interviews with legislators and their staff to compare legislative activity on women's issues by male and female members of the House of Representatives during the 103rd (1993-94) and 104th (1995-96) Congresses. Tracking representatives' commitment to women's issues throughout the legislative process, from the introduction of bills through committee consideration to final floor votes, Swers examines how the prevailing political context and members' positions within Congress affect whether and how aggressively they pursue women's issues.

Anyone studying congressional behavior, the role of women, or the representation of social identities in Congress will benefit from Swers's balanced and nuanced analysis.

front cover of Divided Power
Divided Power
The Presidency, Congress, and the Formation of American Foreign Policy
Donald R. Kelley
University of Arkansas Press, 2005
Divided Power is a collection of eight original essays written for the Fulbright Institute of International Relations that focuses on timely yet unanswerable questions about the relationship between the executive and legislative branches in the formation of American foreign policy. In trying to answer questions about what the nation’s foreign policy is, and who has the upper hand in making it, these essays examine the struggle between the constant of the division of powers mandated by the Constitution (ambiguous though it may be) and the ever-changing political realities and conventional wisdoms of the day. Within that context, the authors also examine the society and culture in which those realities and wisdoms are nested. The goal of these essays is to offer a snapshot in time of the interaction of the executive and legislative branches in the shaping of our foreign policy, framed and informed by the intellectual and political realities that characterize the post–Cold War, post–September 11 world.

front cover of DOING THE RIGHT THING
The Ohio State University Press, 2005

Doing the Right Thing examines the use of extraordinary legislative procedures in four cases in the U.S. Congress to accomplish policy objectives that many political scientists would argue are impossible to achieve. It not only shows that Congress is capable of imposing parochial costs in favor of general benefits but it argues that Congress is able to do so in a variety of policy areas through the use of very different kinds of procedural mechanisms that are underappreciated.

The book opens by developing a theory of procedural choice to explain why Congress chooses to delegate in differing degrees in dealing with similar kinds of policy problems. The theory is then applied to four narrative case studies—military base closures, the Yucca Mountain Project, NAFTA, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986—that both show the variety of factors that impact procedural choice and highlight how our national legislature was able to “do the right thing.”

The book concludes by pointing to the variety of ways in which Congress will be confronted with similar policy problems in the coming years and offering some lessons from these cases about what kinds of procedures and policy outcomes we might expect. In short, Congress is remarkably adept at “doing the right thing,” even under difficult circumstances, but only when legislators are willing to manipulate procedures in all the necessary ways.


front cover of Dual Justice
Dual Justice
America’s Divergent Approaches to Street and Corporate Crime
Anthony Grasso
University of Chicago Press, 2024

A far-reaching examination of how America came to treat street and corporate crime so differently.

While America incarcerates its most marginalized citizens at an unparalleled rate, the nation has never developed the capacity to consistently prosecute corporate wrongdoing. Dual Justice unearths the intertwined histories of these two phenomena and reveals that they constitute more than just modern hypocrisy.

By examining the carceral and regulatory states’ evolutions from 1870 through today, Anthony Grasso shows that America’s divergent approaches to street and corporate crime share common, self-reinforcing origins. During the Progressive Era, scholars and lawmakers championed naturalized theories of human difference to justify instituting punitive measures for poor offenders and regulatory controls for corporate lawbreakers. These ideas laid the foundation for dual justice systems: criminal justice institutions harshly governing street crime and regulatory institutions governing corporate misconduct.

Since then, criminal justice and regulatory institutions have developed in tandem to reinforce politically constructed understandings about who counts as a criminal. Grasso analyzes the intellectual history, policy debates, and state and federal institutional reforms that consolidated these ideas, along with their racial and class biases, into America’s legal system.


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