Amanda L. Hollis-Brusky

Associate Professor of Politics; Chair of Politics
  • Expertise

    Expertise

    Professor Hollis-Brusky teaches courses on American politics, constitutional law, and legal institutions in the Politics Department at Pomona College.  A go-to expert on Supreme Court politics, Professor Hollis-Brusky has written and spoken about the Supreme Court and the conservative legal movement in various media outlets, including NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC World News, The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times,  The San Francisco Chronicle,  The Washington PostNew York MagazineNewsweekAirTalk with Larry Mantle, KCRW’s Press Play and California Edition. She is a regular contributor to the politics round-up on AirTalk with Larry Mantle and an editor at The Monkey Cage blog at The Washington Post. In 2014, Hollis-Brusky was one of eight recipients of the Wig Distinguished Teaching Award at Pomona College.

    Her research examines the dynamics of constitutional change and the role “support structures” play in that process – e.g., networks of lawyers and academics, non-governmental institutions, and ideas. Her first book  Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Oxford 2015; 2019) won the American Political Science Association’s  C. Herman Pritchett Award for the best book published on Law and Courts by a Political Scientist. Drawing on her award-winning research, Hollis-Brusky provided expert testimony on “Maintaining Judicial Independence and The Rule of Law: The Causes and Consequences of Court Capture” before the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives in September of 2020.

    Hollis-Brusky’s recently-released second book, Separate but Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law and Legal Culture examines the rise and efficacy of the conservative Christian legal movement. Professor Hollis-Brusky and her co-author Professor Wilson were awarded a three-year grant for this project in 2016 from the Law and Social Sciences division of the  National Science Foundation. In addition to her two books, Hollis-Brusky has also published articles on the conservative legal movement, Originalism, the unitary executive theory, the impeachment power and the Christian Right.

    In October 2015, she had the privilege of interviewing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In February of 2020, she sat down with former Attorney General Eric Holder for a wide-ranging conversation on voting rights, court reform, race and inequality, and the politicization of the Justice Department.

    Research Interests

    • Constitutional law and constitutional theory (Originalism, constitutional interpretation)
    • Law and social movements, legal mobilization, the conservative legal movement
    • Executive power and the separation of powers (unitary executive theory, War Powers)
    • The role of "support structures" in constitutional development

    Areas of Expertise

    • American Politics
    • Constitutional Theory and Law
    • Supreme Court Politics
    • Federalism
    • Separation of powers
    • Executive power
    • Conservative and Progressive legal movements
    • State and Federal contraceptive mandates
  • Work

    Work

    Books

    Separate but Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law and Legal Culture (Oxford University Press, 2020)

    Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Oxford University Press, 2015)

    Peer-Reviewed Journals

    “Impeachment as a ‘Madisonian Device’ Reconsidered.” Chicago Kent Law Review.  Vol 96(1): 101-121 (2020).

    “Higher Law: Can Christian Conservatives Transform Law Through Legal Education?”(with Joshua C. Wilson). Law and Society Review, 52(4) (2018).

    “An Activist’s Court: Political Polarization and the Robert’s Court.” in Parchment Barriers: Political Polarization and the Limits of Constitutional Order. Kansas University Press (2018).

    “Playing for the Rules: How and Why New Christian Right Public Interest Law Firms Invest in Secular Litigation.” (with Joshua C Wilson). Law and Policy 39(2) (2017).

    “Lawyers for God & Neighbor: The Emergence of ‘Law as a Calling’ as a Mobilizing Frame for Christian Lawyers.” (with Joshua C Wilson) Law and Social Inquiry Vol 39 (2): 416-448 (2014).

    “An [Un]clear Conscience Clause: The Causes and Consequences of Statutory Ambiguity in State Contraceptive Mandates.” (with Rachel VanSickle-Ward, Pitzer College). Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law Vol. 38, No. 4 (2013)

    “It’s the Network: The Federalist Society as a Supplier of Intellectual Capital for the Supreme Court.” in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol 61: 137-178 (2013).

    “Helping Ideas Have Consequences: Political and Intellectual Investment in the Unitary Executive Theory, 1981-2000.” Denver University Law Review, 89 (1) (2011).

    “Support Structures and Constitutional Change: Teles, Southworth, and the Conservative Legal Movement.” Law and Social Inquiry 36 (2): 551-74 (2011).

    Book Chapters

    “An Activist’s Court: Political Polarization and the Roberts Court.” in Parchment Barriers: Political Polarization and the Limits of Constitutional Order. Eds. Zachary Courser, Eric Helland, Kenneth P. MillerUniversity Press of Kansas (2018).

    Book Reviews

    Review of Rebecca Sanders, Plausible Legality: Legal Culture and Political Imperative in the Global War on Terror. International Affairs. 95(3): May 2019.

    Review of Daniel Bennett, Defending Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement. Great Plains Research. Vol 29(1): Spring 2019

    Review of Laura Kalman, The Long Reach of the Sixties: LBJ, Nixon, and the Making of the Contemporary Supreme Court. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2017.

    Review of Jefferson Decker, The Other Rights Revolution: Conservative Lawyers and the Remaking of American Government. Law and Politics Book Review. Vol 27 (3): 49-52 (2017).

    Review of William Howell and Terry Moe, Relic: How our Constitution Undermines Effective Government and Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency. The Forum. Spring 2017.

    “The Constrained Court.” Review of Ian Millhiser, Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted. Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Issue 37 (Summer 2015).

    Review of Pamela Karlan, A Constitution for All Times. Law and Politics Book Review, 24 (6): 283-286 (June 2014).

    Review of Michael Avery and Danielle McLaughlin, The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals. Political Science Quarterly, 129 (1): 177 (Spring 2014)

    Professional Presentations/Invited Talks

    “Separate but Faithful.” Book launch talk. Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession. UC Irvine Law School. Oct. 1, 2020

    “Legal Societies and Outside Actors.” Featured panelist at “Politics of Judicial Nominations in an Age of Mistrust.” Princeton University. March 6, 2020.

    “The Supreme Court: What’s at Stake.” California Women’s Law Center. Aug. 21, 2018.

    “How the Constitution Changes: Lawyers, Legal Institutions and the ‘Support Structure’ for Constitutional Development.” Taking the Constitution Seriously Speaker Series. Claremont Graduate University. May 2, 2017.

    “Justice Confirmed.” Supreme Court Panel Discussion. Foley Institute. Washington State University. March 20, 2017.

    “Black-Robed Policymakers or Defenders of the Constitution? When the Supreme Court Should and Should not Govern Us.” Constitution Day Lecture. Northwestern University, Department of Legal Studies. Oct. 1, 2015

    “Culture Warrior, Esquire: Will Christian Law Schools and Training Programs Reshape Law and Politics?” Boston University Political Science Department. May 1, 2015.

    “Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution.” University of Pennsylvania Law School (sponsored by the American Constitution Society). Mar. 18, 2015.

    “Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution.” University of California, Berkeley (co-sponsored by Center for Right Wing Studies, Center for the Study of Law and Society, and Travers Department of Political Science). Feb.. 19, 2015.

    “Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution.” Marsico Visiting Scholar, University of Denver Political Science Department. Feb. 3-6, 2015.

    “Wrestling with Conscience Clauses” (with Rachel Van Sickle-Ward, Pitzer College). Southwestern Law School Faculty Speaker SeriesApril 5, 2013.

    Conference Presentations

    (Past Five Years Only)

    “‘Serviceable Instruments of His Authority’: How Lawyers Built the Imperial Presidency.” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Virtual/Zoom. September 11, 2020.

    “‘A Generation of Christian Attorneys’”: How Newly Formed Christian Right Law Schools are Outfitting the Culture Wars.” (with Joshua C. Wilson). Presented at the annual meeting of the Law and Society Association. May 31, 2019.

    “Separate but Faithful: Can the Christian Right Reshape Law Through Legal Education?” (with Joshua C. Wilson). Presented at Inaugural Conference on Right Wing Studies. Center for the Study of Right Wing Studies, UC Berkeley. April 27, 2019.

    “Culture Warrior, Esquire.” Presented at the “Role of Lawyers in Constitutional Change” conference. Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession, UC Irvine School of Law. March 15, 2019.

    “Culture Warrior, Esquire.” Presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, MA. Sept. 1, 2018

    “Support Structures and Legal Mobilization: Lessons in Movement Building and Efficacy from New Christian Right Law Schools and Training Programs.” (with Joshua C Wilson). Presented at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Mexico City, MX. June 20, 2017.

    “Freedom and Constraints in Building a Movement: Lessons from New Christian Law Schools and Training Programs.” (with Joshua C Wilson). Presented at the Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, B.C. Apr 15, 2017.

    “Thickening Support: The Conservative Christian Legal Movement and the Development of Support Structure Models.” (with Joshua C Wilson). Presented at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA. June 3, 2016.

    “Support Structures: Just Seventeen, You Know What I Mean.” (with Joshua C Wilson). Presented at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA May 30. 2015.

    “When the Public Interest is God’s Interest: The Strategies, Successes and Failures of New Christian Right Public Interest Law.” (with Joshua C Wilson). Presented at the Annual Meeting of American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C. Aug 28, 2014

    “When the Public Interest is God’s Interest: The Strategies, Successes and Failures of New Christian Right Public Interest Law.” (with Joshua C Wilson). Presented at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting. Minneapolis, MN. May 29, 2014.

    “Judicial Activism, Inc. How the Federalist Society Network Shaped Citizens United.” Presented at the Second Annual Meeting of the Southern California Law and Social Science (SoCLASS) Forum. Whittier Law School. Mar. 28, 2014.

    Other Conference Participation

    Panelist, “The Cycles of Constitutional Time” by Jack Balkin. Author Meets Reader. Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Virtual/Zoom. Sept. 13, 2020.

    Chair and Discussant, “Perspectives on Constitutional Interpretation.” Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Virtual/Zoom. Sept. 10, 2020.

    Panelist, “Raised Right: Fatherhood in Modern American Conservatism” by Jeffrey Dudas. Author Meets Reader. Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association. Mexico City. June 20, 2017.

    Welcoming Remarks. “Law and Legitimacy.” Fifth Annual Meeting of the Southern California Law and Social Science Forum. Claremont McKenna. April 28, 2017.

    Discussant. “Politics in an age of Societal Division.” Fourth Annual Meeting of the Southern California Law and Social Science Forum. UC San Diego. March 18, 2016.

    Panelist, “Polarization and the Supreme Court.” David Dreier Roundtable, Claremont McKenna College, Oct. 9, 2015.

    Organizer, “Lawyers, Networks and Institutions: Examining the ‘Support Structure’ for Legal Development.” Presented at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA May 30. 2015

    Chair, “Regulation in Uncharted Territory.” Third Annual Meeting of the Southern California Law and Social Science Forum. USC Law School. March 27, 2015.

    Co-Organizer, Law, Politics, and Democracy, Second Annual Meeting of the Southern California Law and Social Science Forum. Whittier Law School. March 28, 2014.

    Chair, Empirical Inquiries in Constitutional Law, APSA Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2013

    Chair, Constitutional Law and the Political Theory of Rights, APSA Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2013

    Co-Organizer, Host, and Opening Remarks, Law at the Fault Lines Conference, The First Annual Meeting of the Southern California Law and Social Science Forum. Pomona College, March 1, 2013

    Discussant, “Polarization in the Judiciary,” Politics to the Extreme. CSU Channel Islands, Oct. 8-9, 2012

    Professional Service

    Courts and American Politics Editor, “The Monkey Cage” at The Washington Post (Jan. 1, 2020-present)

    Editorial Board, Journal of Law and Courts (2019-2020)

    Referee/ Reviewer for: Studies in American Political Development, Law and Social Inquiry, Law and Society Review; Journal of Law and Courts, National Science Foundation Law and Social Sciences Division

    Co-Founder & Chair, Steering Committee, Southern California Law and Social Science Forum (2012 – present)

    Member, Law and Society Association (2010 – present)

    Member, American Political Science Association (2007 – present)

    2019-2020: Division Co-Chair (w/ Corey Brettschneider), Constitutional Law & Jurisprudence (Division 27)

    2018-2019: Served on C. Herman Pritchett Award Committee for Best Book on Law and Courts

    2017-2018: Served as Chair of APSA Distinguished Teaching Award Committee

    2014-2015: Served as Chair, Law & Courts Section Best Graduate Student Paper Award

    2012-2013: Served on the Law & Courts Section Best Paper Award Committee

    College Service

    Work-Family Committee (2019-2021)

    Faculty Chair, Task Force on Public Dialogue (2017-2018)

    Faculty Executive Committee (“Committee on Committees”) (2017-2018)

    Chair, Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) (Spring 2017)

    Mentor, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (2016-present)

    Curriculum Committee (2016-2017)

    Analyzing Difference Committee (2016-2017)

    Dean of the College Search Committee (2015 – 2016)

    Critical Writing and Thinking Committee (2015- 2016)

    Faculty Advisor, The Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy (2015 – present)

    Pomona College Emergency Building Coordinator, Carnegie Building (2013-2014)

    Pomona College Ad Hoc for Arts and Humanities (AHAH) (2013 – 2014)

    Pomona College ID-1 Steering Committee (2012 – 2013)

    PPE Steering Committee (2012 – 2014)

    Faculty Host, Downing College Visiting Scholar (2012-2013)

    Co-Organizer, Pomona College Social Science Research Confab (2012-2013, 2016-2017)

    Select Public Engagement and Policy Impact

    Testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives. “Maintaining Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: The Causes and Consequences of Court Capture.” September 22, 2020.

    Senators Debbie Stabenow, Chuck Shumer and Sheldon Whitehouse, “Captured Courts: The GOP’s Big Money Assault on The Constitution, Our Independent Judiciary, and the Rule of Law.” May 2020 (featuring research from Ideas With Consequences and “Helping Ideas Have Consequences” pp. 33, 34, 48, 49, 52.)

    Seila Law v. CFPB, “Brief of Amici Curiae U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal and Mazie Hirono in support of Court-Appointed Amicus Curiae.” January 22, 2020. (featuring research from “Helping Ideas Have Consequences” pp. 13, 14, 28, 30.)

    Media & Multimedia Appearances

    Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, United States House of Representatives. “Maintaining Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: The Causes and Consequences of Court Capture.” September 22, 2020. 

    The Supreme Court’s Culture Wars Whiplash is All in Your Head.” Newsweek Magazine. w/ Joshua C. Wilson. July 9, 2020.

    Supreme Court may have Undermined its Guantanamo Decision guaranteeing Rights to Non Citizens.” Monkey Cage at The Washington Post. w/ Isaac Cui. June 30, 2020.

    The Supreme Court Closed the Door on LGBTQ Discrimination. But it Opened a Window.” Monkey Cage at The Washington Post. June 16, 2020.

    “Barr blames lawyers for undermining the president’s power. Actually, they helped build it.” Monkey Cage at The Washington Post. November 18, 2019.

    “The Federalist Society Says It’s Not an Advocacy Group. These documents show otherwise.” Politico Magazine. August 31, 2019. (w/ Calvin TerBeek)

    “The incredible influence of the Federalist Society, Explained.” Q&A w/ Vox. June 3, 2019.

    Professor Hollis-Brusky featured in Washington Post’s documentary “Pathways to Power: The Conservative Movement Transforming America’s Courts.” May 21, 2019

    “Conservatives Played the Long Game: Will They Benefit in the Long run?” Opinion. Los Angeles Times. October 6, 2018.

    “After Trump taps textualist Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court, the confirmation fight ahead and potential impact on midterm elections.” Airtalk with Larry Mantel.  KPCC. July 10, 2018.

    “How the Federalist Society Shapes the Supreme Court.” Press Play with Madeleine Brand. KCRW. July 9, 2018.

    “What is the Federalist Society and How Does it Affect Supreme Court Picks.” All Things Considered with Mary Louise Kelly. NPR. June 28, 2018.

    “How the Christian Right has Come to Love Trump.” Op Ed, Newsweek. Jun 29, 2017.

    “The Future of the Christian Right.” Op Ed, CQ researcher27, 533-556. June 23, 2017. 

    “Trump’s Values are abhorrent to the Federalist Society of conservative lawyers. That doesn’t stop them from helping him.” Q&A with Henry Farrell. The Monkey Cage at the Washington Post. May 17, 2017.

    “Donald Trump Blames Liberal Judges for Thwarting him on Sanctuary Cities. He Should Blame Conservative Lawyers Instead.” Op Ed, The Monkey Cage at the Washington Post. May 1, 2017.

    “What Christian Colleges Stand to Gain from Trump.” Op Ed, RealClear Politics. Feb. 10, 2017.

    “Here are Two Ways that Breyer’s Wonky Opinion in Whole Woman’s Health Could Transform Abortion Politics.” Op ed, Monkey Cage at The Washington Post. July 3, 2016.

    “Here’s why Originalism won’t be buried with Scalia.”  Op ed, Monkey Cage at The Washington Post. Feb 22, 2016.

    “Justice Scalia’s Jurisprudential Legacy.” POTUSCast. Feb 17, 2016

    “The Pro Federalist.” James Piereson. Commentary Magazine (review of Ideas with Consequences). April 21, 2015.

    Radio conversation on Ideas with Consequences. KPFA, “Letters and Politics” with Mitch Jeserich.  March 30, 2015.

    “Constitutional Revolution,” John McGinnis. Wall Street Journal (review of Ideas with Consequences). March 26, 2015.

    “The Irresistible Rise of the Federalist Society.” Andrew Buttaro. The Weekly Standard. (review of Ideas with Consequences). March 23, 2015.

    “Booktalk” on Ideas with Consequences. ACSblog, the American Constitution Society blog. March 16, 2015.

    Excerpt of Ideas with Consequences on SALON, “The Federalist Society to Fox News to the Supreme Court: The real story behind the conservative war on Obamacare.” March 5, 2015.

    Radio conversation on Ideas with Consequences with Jeff Schectman of Napa Broadcasting, “The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution.” March 4, 2015

    Q&A with Nina Martin of ProPublica. “Behind Supreme Court’s Obamacare, A Secretive Society’s Hidden Hand.” ProPublica. March 3, 2015.

    Podcast on Ideas with Consequences with John J Miller of National Review Online and Ricochet Magazine, Feb 3, 2015

    “Why did you choose to write a book on the Federalist Society?” Promo spot for Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution, Jan 2015

    “Citizens United, five years later.” Appearance on AirTalk with Larry Mantel, KPCC (NPR LA), January 21, 2015.

    “The Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision Continues to Echo.” Op Ed, Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2015.

    “Behind Korematsu v United States.” Oxford University Press Blog. December 18, 2014.

    “How the Supreme Court Justices ‘benchslapped’ each other in the Hobby Lobby Case.” Op Ed, The Monkey Cage, Washington Post, July 1, 2014.

    “Hobby Lobby: A Minefield Masquerading as a Minimalist Ruling.” Op Ed, The Life of the Law, June 30, 2014.

    “Wikipedia pops up in bibliographies, and even college curricula.” Larry Gordon. Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2014. Feature in the LA Times  on my Intro American Politics Course and my Wikipedia Group Research project.

    “Eight Pomona Professors Receive Wig Excellence in Teaching Award.” May 18, 2014.

    “Instead of Forbidding Wikipedia, This Professor Has Students Work to Improve It.” April 16, 2014.  Pomona College Website Feature on my Intro American Wikipedia Assignment. 

    “Supreme Court Round-Up,” Sarah Kranser and Emma Brillhart. Claremont Port Side. October 24, 2013.

    “The Supreme Court and the Future of the Constitution” Pomona College Alumni Phonecast, Sept 16, 2013:

    “Law at the Fault Lines,” Interview with KSPC about the Inaugural Conference of the Southern California Law and Social Science Forum, Feb 24, 2013

    “Election Special,” Interview with KSPC about the potential impact of the Nov 2012 Elections on the Supreme Court

    Featured Work

  • Education

    Education

    2010, Ph.D. in Political Science
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California
    Dissertation: The Federalist Society and the Structural Constitution: An Epistemic Community at Work
    Committee: Robert A. Kagan (Co-Chair), Shannon Stimson (Co-Chair), Gordon Silverstein, Daniel A. Farber

    2005, M.A. in Political Science
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California

    2003, B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science
    Boston University
    Boston, Massachusetts

    Recent Courses Taught

    • American Constitutionalism I
    • American Constitutionalism II
    • Freshman Critical Inquiry Seminar ID-1: Law & Lawyers in America
    • Freshman Critical Inquiry Seminar ID-1: Running for Office
    • Introduction to American Politics
    • Law & Politics
    • Senior Seminar in Politics: Contemporary Topics in American Law and Politics
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    National Science Foundation, Law and Social Sciences Division, “Studying Variance Within and Evaluating the Efficacy of Support Structures for Legal Mobilization,” award number 1551871 $157,000 (2016-2019)

    Hirsch Research Initiation Grant. Pomona College Internal Grant (2015-2017)

    Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching 2014, Pomona College