Texas Tech University

Faculty Research Sampler

Mark McKenzie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science

One area of research I am interested in concerns judicial behavior in election regulation. I am seeking to understand how and when partisan favoritism influences judicial decision making in election cases. In my forthcoming article in Political Research Quarterly and in a book manuscript I am working on, I use redistricting cases in three-judge federal trial courts to gain leverage on this subject. I show that federal judges of one political party tend strike down redistricting plans drawn up by the opposite party. In other words, federal judges sometimes engage in partisan favoritism when reviewing the legality of a state's redistricting plans. However, I also show that when the law is clear and unambiguous, federal judges eschew partisan favoritism and instead follow the law. I argue that federal judges want to follow the law, but if the law is unclear, then facts and circumstances of the case allow judges' partisan biases to guide their decisions.

Currently I am working on a book manuscript that expands on the PRQ research. In addition to examining federal court oversight in redistricting, the book examines the role of partisanship in state supreme court oversight of redistricting. The book project also relies on a mail survey of over 100 randomly selected federal judges that I conducted in 2008 in order to gauge judicial perceptions of redistricting disputes. Finally, the book project draws on in-person interviews with federal judges. I interviewed 22 federal judges across 8 states in 7 different circuits in 2006 and 2007.


Department of Political Science

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    Dept. of Political Science, Texas Tech University, 113 Holden Hall, Boston & Akron Streets, Lubbock, TX 79409-1015 Fax: 806.742.0850
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