CSUN Professor Publishes Findings on Judiciary System
(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., July 2, 2008) — Recent state sovereign immunity rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court have sparked controversy within the judicial system. Are the states gaining more authority and becoming more autonomous? Do the new rulings undermine federal anti-discrimination statutes?
Christopher Shortell, a political science professor at Cal State Northridge, addresses these questions and more in his newly published book, "Rights, Remedies, and the Impact of State Sovereign Immunity." By engaging historical case studies, Shortell traces the impact of state sovereign immunity for all parties involved.
"I was intrigued by a series of Supreme Court decisions protecting states from liability in areas such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and patent law," said Shortell. "Some commentators claimed that the cases resulted in greater autonomy and power for the states, while others argued the decisions meant the potential end of all anti-discrimination laws. None, however, provided any solid evidence to back up their claims. I set out to determine the impact of the decisions."
Shortell’s findings are used as evidence to challenge arguments from proponents and opponents of state sovereign immunity. Throughout his book, he uses previous case studies to prove his thesis.
"I want readers to understand that the courts do not work in isolation," said Shortell. "They are part of a broader political system and operate under the constraints that come along with that. It is too easy to say that the Supreme Court decided something, so that is the end of the story. In some ways, it is much more interesting to think about what happens after the Court decides a case."
Politics and the judicial system are not unfamiliar territories for Shortell. Having received his bachelor’s in political science and theater from Loyola Marymount, his master’s and doctorate in political science at University of California, San Diego, Shortell is well-educated in political diplomacy. He currently teaches at CSUN and in his spare time, writes on constitutional law, the interaction between law and society, and federalism.
After spending years researching for his first book, Shortell is relieved to have finished, he said.
"I am excited to see it finally coming out. I have been living with this material for a long time and I am looking forward to putting my findings out there for consideration and discussion in the broader academic community."