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Paul M. Collins - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Paul M. Collins Paul M. Collins

Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science / Director of Legal Studies | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Paul Collins' research interests include understanding the democratic nature of the judiciary.


Expertise (2)

American Politics

Public Law


Paul M. Collins investigates the factors that shape the selection and decision-making process of U.S. Supreme Court justices and interest group litigation. He has published more than two dozen articles and is the author of the books Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Friends of the Supreme Court: Interest Groups and Judicial Decision Making (Oxford University Press, 2008), which received the 2009 C. Herman Pritchett Award from the American Political Science Association.






Massachusetts Citizens Commission’s Citizens United Report | Connecting Point | Feb. 17, 2020


Education (3)

Binghamton University (SUNY): Ph.D., Political Science

Binghamton University (SUNY): M.A., Political Science

University of Scranton.: B.S., Political Science

Media Coverage (9)

Could Supreme Court Justices Be Impeached if They Lied Under Oath?

Newsweek  online


Lying under oath may seem like an obvious reason to bring impeachment charges against a Supreme Court justice but Paul Collins, a legal studies and political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, tells Newsweek that the grounds for impeachment were more of a political matter.

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Confirmation Hearings, Once Focused on Law, Are Now Mired in Politics

The New York Times  print


Paul M. Collins Jr., a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said Judge Jackson was no more responsive to questions on her legal views than earlier nominees had been. “Judge Jackson took very few solid positions on anything remotely controversial,” he said, adding that Justice Barrett, who was confirmed in 2020, may have served as her model.

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If I Were A Senator: What Lawyers Would Ask Judge Jackson

Law 360 Pulse  online


"Would you be willing to pledge to serve no more than 18 years on the court, hopefully starting a tradition of self-imposed, 18-year term limits for Supreme Court justices? There has been a great deal of attention to reforming the Supreme Court in the past few years. One of the proposals that has a good deal of support among policymakers, academics and the public is to term limit Supreme Court justices. Unfortunately, it does not look like Congress is going to act on this reform either by statute or constitutional amendment. However, members of the court can voluntarily term limit themselves."

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Clarence Thomas Has Big Shoes to Fill to Become Supreme Court's Leading Conservative

Newsweek  print


Paul Collins, a legal studies and political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Newsweek there were similarities between the two men. "We can certainly draw comparisons between Justices Scalia and Thomas. Both justices claimed to be strong advocates of the doctrine of originalism – the idea that judges should interpret the words in the Constitution according to how they would have been understood at the time they were written," Collins said.

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How Will Trump's Three Supreme Court Picks Affect New Challenge to Roe v. Wade?

Newsweek  online


Paul Collins said Trump's appointees "seem comfortable with overruling precedents they feel were wrongly decided" and this could include Roe. However, he believes the Court could limit itself when it comes to a ruling. "Look for Chief Justice Roberts to push the Court's conservative members to rule narrowly on the case to avoid controversy," Collins told Newsweek."

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Amy Klobuchar is Joe Biden’s best VP pick

The Boston Globe  print


Paul Collins is quoted about possible future Supreme Court nominees if Joe Biden is elected president.

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Massachusetts Citizens Commission Report

WGBY: Connecting Point  tv


A 2018 ballot question tasked the Massachusetts Citizens Commission with devising a plan to overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling. nth, the Citizens Commision For context and analysis, Carrie Saldo spoke with UMass Amherst Professor of Political Science Paul Collins, Jr.

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With stakes beyond task at hand, John Roberts takes central role in Trump’s impeachment trial

The Washington Post  print


Paul M. Collins Jr., a University of Massachusetts at Amherst political scientist who studies the judiciary, described Chief Justice John Roberts’s dilemma in presiding over Pres. Trump's impeachment trial. “Any decision he makes in the president’s favor will be interpreted as partisan since Roberts is a Republican,” Collins said. “Yet any decision he makes against the president will be interpreted as biased, too.”

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Roberts will tap his inner umpire in impeachment trial

AP  print


Paul M. Collins Jr. says Chief Justice John Roberts isn’t likely to make controversial or partisan rulings in the upcoming impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump because that would undermine the view of the court as above politics and even handed

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Publications (4)

Stephen Breyer is set to retire – should his replacement on the Supreme Court have a term limit?

The Conversation

Paul M. Collins and Artemus Ward


Collins and Ward write: "Our extensive research on the Supreme Court shows life tenure, while well-intended, has had unforeseen consequences. It skews how the confirmation process and judicial decision-making work, and causes justices who want to retire to behave like political operatives."

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Trump attacked the Supreme Court again. Here are 4 things to know.

The Washington Post

Paul M. Collins Jr. and Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha


Once again, President Trump has picked a fight with the Supreme Court.

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The President and the Supreme Court: Going Public on Judicial Decisions from Washington to Trump (BOOK)

Cambridge University Press

Paul M. Collins and Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha


When presidents take positions on pending Supreme Court cases or criticize the Court's decisions, they are susceptible to being attacked for acting as bullies and violating the norm of judicial independence. Why then do presidents target Supreme Court decisions in their public appeals?

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Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change (Book)

Cambridge University Press

Paul M. Collins and Lori H. Ringhand


This book presents a contrarian view to the idea that the confirmation of Supreme Court nominees by the Senate Judiciary Committee is merely empty ritual and political grandstanding.

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