Welcome to my website! My name is Elizabeth Lane and I am a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University in the Department of Political Science.
My primary research agenda examines the interplay between law and politics on the United States Supreme Court. In my dissertation, Legal Quality and the United States Supreme Court, I develop a novel measure of legal quality to assess the contemporaneous impact of law on merits decisions. To develop this measure, I was awarded a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant to digitally photograph and content analyze 6,100 bench memoranda of 11 former Supreme Court justices, who sat on the Court from 1946-1993. These memoranda are authored by the justices’ law clerks prior to oral argument to synthesize all of the legal documents related to a case, with a particular focus on merit and amicus curiae briefs. Bench memoranda offer a rigorous analytical assessment of the strength of the arguments in relation to one another.
With my measure of legal quality, I set out to provide a better understanding of the impact of law on judicial decisions, and its constraining, or encouraging, capacity for justices to pursue their preferred outcomes. This measure will also shed light on a number of other topics such as: In a case when law and ideology come in conflict, what determines which influence prevails? Also, do amicus curiae briefs provide the justices with unique information, and thus inform Supreme Court decisions?
In addition to my dissertation research, I am also interested in the Supreme Court’s interaction with other branches of government, the behavior of actors within these institutions, and how the public perceives them.
Outside of work, I enjoy rooting on the Spartans’ football and basketball teams, and the New England Patriots, gardening, listening to true crime podcasts, and playing golf (or at least attempting to).
Thank you for visiting my website.