Hansford, Thomas G. 1971-

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Hansford, Thomas G. 1971-


Born July, 1971. Education: St. Mary's College of Maryland, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1993; University of California at Davis, Ph.D., 2001.


Home—Merced, CA. Office—University of California, Merced School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, P.O. Box 2039, Merced, CA 95344. E-mail—[email protected]


University of South Carolina, Columbia, assistant professor, 2001-06; University of California, Merced, assistant professor of political science, 2006—.


Pi Sigma Alpha Award, 2001, for best paper delivered at the Southern Political Science Association meeting; College of Liberal Arts Scholarship Support Grant, University of South Carolina, 2002-03; Research and Productive Scholarship Award, University of South Carolina, 2003.


(With James F. Spriggs II) The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2006.

Contributor to professional journals, including Political Research Quarterly, American Politics Quarterly, American Politics Research, American Journal of Political Science, Law & Society Review, and the Journal of Politics.


Thomas G. Hansford is a professor of political science whose interests include the judicial system (especially the U.S. Supreme Court), the election process, and the courts' interpretations of the law. His first book, The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court, was written with James F. Spriggs II. It addresses the debate of whether law or political ideology has proven more influential toward decisions made by the Supreme Court. The authors conclude in their book that both politics and the law are important in justices' decisions. "Their theory is based on two key factors," according to Mark S. Hurwitz in the Political Science Quarterly: "that justices interpret precedent, first, to influence current legal policy and, second, to justify new policies in current opinions." This argument is then supported by statistical models, according to Hurwitz. A main source of this data, Hurwitz reported, is Shepard's Citations, "a legal citation service detailing how subsequent courts treat prior precedents." Hansford and Spriggs are innovative here in that Shepard's has previously not been used to explain how courts have historically addressed precedent. "The authors have demonstrated in convincing detail how Shepard's is a reliable and valid measure for this purpose," concluded Hurwitz, who added that they "have done a commendable job in showing how both law and politics matter when the Supreme Court interprets precedent."



Journal of Politics, November, 2007, Kirk A. Randazzo, review of The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court, p. 1216.

Law and Politics Book Review, August, 2006, Stefanie A. Lindquist, review of The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court, p. 603.

Political Science Quarterly, winter, 2006, Mark S. Hurwitz, review of The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court.


University of California at Merced Web site,http://www.ucmerced.edu/ (January 30, 2008), faculty profile of Thomas G. Hansford.

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Hansford, Thomas G. 1971-

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