Colloquium - Designing Political Institutions
March 2, 2007
12:30PM - 12:30PM (EST)
Sarah Binder, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute, and Professor of Political Science, George Washington University
Why do Congressional majorities create minority rights? Binder explores competing explanations for why majorities might grant procedural advantages to the minority, and tests her conjectures in a case study of the origins of informal advice and consent practices in the Senate. In particular, using Senate archival records, Binder explores the origins of the Senate "blue slip" ' the Senate practice that grants home state senators regardless of party the right to block judicial nominees. The study enhances our understanding of the evolution of advice and consent, and informs our notions about how and why political institutions evolve.
Binder is an expert on Congress and congressional history, House and Senate rules and reform, and political parties. Her current projects focus on politics and the process of federal judicial selection. She has written Stalemate: Causes and Consequences of Legislative Gridlock (Brookings, 2003); Minority Rights, Majority Rule: Partisanship and the Development of Congress (Cambridge, 1997); and Politics or Principle? Filibustering in the United States Senate, with Steven S. Smith (Brookings, 1997). Her work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and elsewhere. Binder received her B.A. from Yale University and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Before her tenure at George Washington University and the Brookings Institute, Binder was press secretary and legislative aide to U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton.