May 12, 2014
Professor Stuart Chinn releases ‘Recalibrating Reform’
New book analyzes difficulties in achieving change in American politics
University of Oregon School of Law Associate Professor Stuart Chinn's new book, "Recalibrating Reform: The Limits of Political Change," reflects on how reforms are reshaped as a result of the continuing influence and power of established institutions and rights.
Chinn's book, published by Cambridge University Press, examines a pattern of conservative reemergence following several eras of reform in American history by pointing to the phenomenon of "recalibration." It demonstrates the difficulty of achieving substantive political change in American politics, as elements of the old political order tend to find ways to survive and reassert themselves after reform. By highlighting recalibration as a regular companion to reform, the book ultimately sheds light on the barriers to, and possibilities for, sweeping change in American politics.
Following is advanced praise for Chinn's book:
"'Recalibrating Reform' is an illuminating work on the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in social change. Stuart Chinn examines the aftermath of reform in the areas of race and labor, arguing that when the court takes up the intersection between new norms and preexisting legal frameworks, it narrows reform to negotiate between prior laws and the new regime. The court's effort to manage legal tension, Chinn argues, limits the possibilities of reform through courts. An original and important contribution."
Mary L. Dudziak, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law and the Director of the Project on War and Security in Law, Culture and Society at Emory University
"This ambitious book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the role of the Supreme Court in American political development. Stuart Chinn has given us our first sustained exploration of the institutional dynamics of retrenchment and accommodation between old and new and conservative and liberal legal-constitutional orders. With great synthetic power and brilliant narrative detail, Chinn shows us how the court recurrently steps in to manage these clashes and fashion the new rules of the game."
William E. Forbath, Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law and Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin
"Drawing on often opposed theories of judicial behavior and extensive historical research, Recalibrating Reform contends forcefully that judges, even the reform minded, are institutionally conditioned to resist major legal transformations – and so major political transformations. This convincing argument will influence scholars of judicial behavior and American constitutional development for years to come."
Chinn is the faculty director for the Public Law and Policy Program at the UO School of Law. He earned his BA, PhD (political science) and JD degrees from Yale University. Previously, he was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas School of Law. His research and teaching interests are in constitutional law, constitutional theory, legislation and legal and political history.