Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The Hidden Politics of Voting Policy Retrenchment and the Future of the Voting Rights Act
Authors: Gray, Cody Justin Kirmil
Advisors: Frymer, Paul
Whittington, Keith
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Civil Rights
Voting Rights Act
Subjects: Political Science
Public policy
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This Dissertation explains the gradual erosion of the Voting Rights Act through an examination of the subterranean political battles that took place within the Justice Department, the courts, Congress, and the States between 1965 and 2013. It then looks to the future of the Voting Rights Act and offers legal and legislative strategies that could rehabilitate the statute’s framework and aims. Its central goal is to reveal like never before the hidden politics of voting policy “retrenchment.” Retrenchment refers to the efforts of opponents to reverse, blunt, or erode a policy commitment. Though scholars have come to view retrenchment as a distinctive political process focused on “blame avoidance,” rather than “credit claiming,” our understanding of this concept is still in its infancy. This Dissertation stretches our knowledge of retrenchment in three distinct ways. First, unlike prior research—which has focused nearly exclusively on conservative opposition to the distribution of benefits under programs stemming from the American welfare state—it ventures into an unexplored realm: that of civil rights generally, and the Voting Rights Act in particular. Second, this Dissertation’s examination of retrenchment efforts in each political arena is far more granular than previous studies. For instance, it drills down to the legal doctrine at issue, and explains how the policy commitments encapsulated in that doctrine were progressively weakened over forty years. Third, this Dissertation is far more rigorous in its investigation of how the political dynamics of one arena can mediate retrenchment efforts in others. Specifically, it employs an original dataset consisting of every case litigated by the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section to show how Congress, the president, and regulated parties impact retrenchment at the Department of Justice. This Dissertation teaches that retrenchment must be understood as a multi-faceted phenomenon that occurs throughout the government ecosystem. It also instructs that the nature and form of the policy at stake are crucial to determining where retrenchment will predominate. Finally, it suggests that our definition of “retrenchment,” and the typology of methods for accomplishing it, must expand beyond their current boundaries.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Gray_princeton_0181D_11363.pdf4.68 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.