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From Enlightened Administration to Adversarial Legalism: How Civil Rights Helped Build Your American State

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About the Event

To hear many on the Right tell it, we are in an era of big government, in which individual liberties are trampled by bureaucrats. Many on the Left, on the other hand, see a decentralized and divided federal government consistently fail to solve problems as efficiently as European governments.

But which is it?

In this public lecture, Boston College professor Shep Melnick looked at the surprising link between civil rights advances and government growth over the past 50 years, and the federal and state judges who have quietly shepherded both.

About the Speaker

R. Shep Melnick is the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics. He teaches a variety of courses on American politics, including Courts and Public Policy, Ideas and Institutions in American Politics, Bureaucracy, Democracy in America, Rights in Conflict, and the American politics graduate field seminar.

Melnick's research and writing focuses on the intersection of law and politics. His first book, Regulation and the Courts, examined judicial influence on the development of environmental policy. His second, Between the Lines, investigated the ways in which statutory interpretation has shaped a variety of entitlement programs. His current research project looks at how the Rehnquist Court is reshaping our governing institutions.

Melnick is co-chair of the Harvard Program on Constitutional Government and a past president of the New England Political Science department. Before coming to Boston College 1997 he had taught at Harvard and at Brandeis, where he served as chair of the Politics department.