Current Research Interests

Research Interests

Using a $3230 Congressional Research Grant from the Dirksen Congressional Research Center and a $5000 Promoting Excellence in Education through Research (PEER) Grant from West Virginia State University’s Research and Development Corporation, one of my book length research endeavors explores Robert C. Byrd’s tenure as Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee (1989 – 2009) – a position that wielded great power and influence, as it sets national spending and policy priorities. This research utilizes the latent data in the congressional papers of Robert C. Byrd, namely, the legislative sub-series on Appropriations, topical series Line Item Veto 1989 – 2009. The archives at the newly constructed Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies at Shepherd University enabled me to study the resources, techniques, and institutional conditions of congressional leadership and the balance of power between the Congress and the Presidency, particularly how Senator Byrd utilized his position to maintain the constitutional power and authority of the Congress in response to what he perceived as the increasing powers and encroachments of the Executive Branch.

Working with Joshua Woods of West Virginia University, we have nearly completed a book length manuscript on the Immigration Debate after 9/11, which is under review. This book utilizes an appropriate, theoretically informed framework for analyzing the multifaceted immigration debate in the 21st Century. The analysis suggests that multiple factors, including history (the events of 9/11), culture and politics (media representations and political rhetoric), power (political economy), organizations (interest groups), technology (internet-mediated extremism), social psychological processes (media effects), and political change (immigration policies), are required to tell the story of the twenty-first century’s immigration debate—in any other way is to tell it in part.

Using a $4000 Faculty Research and Development grant from West Virginia State University, another book length research endeavor explores how the abuse of children continues to be an issue of conflict between religious communities and state authorities. There are definitions of abuse stipulated by congressional and state law. However, in 30 states, there exist broadly defined statutory exemptions to these legal notions of ‘child abuse.’ The exemptions make it difficult to ascertain what rights parents have, how the state can respond to ‘abuse,’ and determining responsibility. The lack of uniformity between states, Congress, and all interested parties regarding the interpretation of the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment rights of children, and parental due process confounds the situation. I argue that religious sympathies and legal ambiguities enable judges, juries, and prosecutors to be more lenient about sentencing, charges, and convictions when children have been abused. Utilizing each incident of religiously motivated ‘abuse’ and the surrounding contextual elements from a unique quantitative database I constructed, the results suggest the government response to the abuse can be predicted—which offers insight into the affect religion has on the political process. This research utilized the databases at the George R. Farmer, Jr. Law Library at the West Virginia University College of Law in Morgantown, WV.

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