University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Paul Collins

Paul M. Collins, Jr.

Professional Title: 

Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science

Service Role: 

  • Graduate Program Director


Thompson 216

Phone Number: 

(413) 545-4079


Office Hours: 

12:30-2:00PM Tuesdays and Thursdays, and by appointment


Ph.D. & M.A. (political science) Binghamton University and B.S. (political science) University of Scranton


My research focuses on understanding bias and inequality in the legal system, the selection and work of judges, social movement litigation, and how people understand the law. 

I have published articles in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Law and Courts, Journal of Politics, Law & Social Inquiry, Law & Society Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Political Research Quarterly, and other journals. My research has been funded by grants from the Dirksen Congressional Center and the National Science Foundation.

I am also the author of four books. Friends of the Supreme Court: Interest Groups and Judicial Decision Making was published in 2008 by Oxford University Press and received the 2009 C. Herman Pritchett Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association. This award recognizes Friends of the Supreme Court as the best book on law and courts written by a political scientist. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change, coauthored with Lori A. Ringhand, was published in 2013 by Cambridge University Press and was recognized by Choice as an 2014 Outstanding Academic Title. My third book, The President and the Supreme Court: Going Public on Judicial Decisions from Washington to Trump, coauthored with Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, was published in 2019 by Cambridge University Press and received the 2021 Richard E. Neustadt Award from the Presidents and Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. This award recognizes The President and the Supreme Court as the best book published that contributed to research and scholarship in the field of the American presidency. The book was also selected as an Exemplary Legal Writing Honoree by The Green Bag Almanac and Reader, an annual collection of the year’s best legal writing. Supreme Bias: Gender and Race in U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, coauthored with Christina L. Boyd and Lori A. Ringhand, was published by Stanford University Press in 2023. It examines the biases that female nominees and nominees of color face on their paths to the Supreme Court.

I served on the editorial boards of Justice System Journal, Law & Social InquiryLaw & Society Review, and Political Research Quarterly. I am also the immediate past President of the Consortium for Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs and was the List Master of the Law and Courts Discussion List from 2014-2020. My research and commentary have appeared in a host of popular media outlets, including CNN, the New York Times, National Law Journal, National Public Radio, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, USA Today, Voice of America, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. I have also published in New York Daily News, SCOTUSblog, Slate, The Conversation, and the Washington Post.

I am excited to work with graduate students who have an interest in the democratic nature of the judiciary; interbranch interactions; judicial behavior and selection; gender, race, and judges; media coverage of court decisions and rights claiming; social movement litigation; and other topics.

In the past, I have hired graduate student research assistants to work on projects involving the influence of amicus curiae briefs on judicial decision making; presidential statements on Supreme Court decisions; Supreme Court confirmation hearings; LGBT+ newspaper coverage of court decisions and rights claiming; and other topics. I have co-authored numerous articles with graduate students, including publications in American Politics Research, Journal of Politics, and Political Research Quarterly.

Area of Study: 

  • American politics
  • Public law

Curriculum Vitae: 

Download pdf (234.23 KB)


  • Legal Studies