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Ph.D. Dissertation Defense - Andrew Povtak, Wed March 30, 12:30 PM

Posted Mar. 21, 2011

Andrew Povtak will defend his Dissertation entitled,Deciding Not to Decide: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Politics of Secondary Access on the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. in the Dean’s Conference Room, Bowman Hall 102. Andrew’s committee members include, Christopher Banks, chair, Mark Colvin and Ryan Claassen, committee members, Elizabeth Smith-Prior, outside committee member, and Stephen Webster, graduate faculty representative. 



Research on the U.S. Supreme Court is ubiquitous, and has focused primarily on agenda setting at the primary access point (the certiorari stage) and on decision-making on the merits.  In the course of this research, scholars have devised numerous ways to explain justice voting behavior.  The main argument has been whether political attitudes motivate justice voting behavior, or whether internal and external variables pose constraints on the ability of the justices to realize their sincere preferences.  This dissertation takes a new look at the factors motivating justice voting behavior by examining justiciability and jurisdictional issues (termed “secondary access”).  The dissertation’s goal is to develop a strategic model that incorporates pertinent influences on the individual justices’ votes.  The dissertation also builds institutional-level models of Court behavior to gauge the effectiveness of the behavioral models.  The author finds that attitudes, the adherence to precedent, legal doctrine, public pressure, internal strategy, and preferences of Congress and the President all influence individual voting.


Andrew A. Povtak


Andrew is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Kent State University.  He earned a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) in 2000 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio majoring in both political science and English.  Following his graduation from Case Western, Andrew worked as a reporter for Sun Newspapers, covering several communities on the east side of Cleveland.  He also earned a juris doctor from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2004.  In November 2004, Andrew passed the Ohio Bar Exam, and received his license to practice law.  Andrew practiced employment discrimination law at James G. Corrigan and Associates until 2006, when he left to pursue his Ph.D. at Kent State.  Apart from finishing his degree, Andrew teaches classes on law and justice systems at Kent State University, and teaches in the paralegal department at Brown Mackie College in Akron, Ohio.  Andrew’s major research interest is judicial decision-making on the U.S. Supreme Court.  He also has interests in the effect of public opinion on the Supreme Court, the effect of media on voters, as well as elections.  He co-authored a paper with Dr. Ryan Claassen of Kent State University, titled “The Christian Right Thesis:  Explaining Longitudinal Change in Participation Among Evangelical Christians,” which was published in January 2010 in the Journal of Politics.  Andrew currently lives in Fairlawn with his wife of 6 years, Jennifer, and son, Alexander.