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

Paul M. Collins, Jr.

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


Paul Collins' research focuses on bias and inequality in the legal system, the selection and work of judges and social movement litigation.

Expertise (8)

Bias in Judicial Appointments

Judicial Appointments

Public Law

Inequality in the Legal System

American Politics

Judicial Ethics

Judicial Elections

Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings


Paul M. Collins investigates the factors that shape the selection and decision-making process of U.S. Supreme Court justices and interest group litigation.

A publicly engaged scholar, his research and commentary have appeared in a host of popular media outlets, including CNN, the National Law Journal, National Public Radio, New York Times, New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, USA Today, Voice of America, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. He has also authored articles in SCOTUSblog, Slate, The Conversation, The New York Daily News and the Washington Post.

Social Media






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

Select Media Coverage (10)

Trump’s chances of returning to the White House rest in the hands of the Supreme Court



Paul Collins comments on the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision barring former President Donald Trump from that state’s presidential primary ballot. “It’s almost impossible to believe that the [U.S.] Supreme Court will not accept this case,” Collins says. “It addresses a matter of exceptional importance, and the question of whether the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause applies to presidents is a question that has not been answered by the Supreme Court before.”

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Court Unveils Ethics Code

The Miami Herald  online


Paul Collins, comments on the new code of ethics released by the U.S. Supreme Court on November 13. “The language in the Code of Conduct is exceedingly vague. Most importantly, there appears to be no enforcement mechanism. So, I read this code of conduct as an acknowledgement of the criticisms the Court is currently facing – which has resulted in historically low public approval – but not as a serious effort to address the ethical issues facing the Court,” Collins says.

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“Witnesses lie, recordings don’t”: Ex-prosecutor pinpoints major problem for Trump in new indictment

Salon  online


Paul Collins, a legal studies and political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Salon that the new charges are "shocking" and add "further fuel" to the obstruction of justice charges. "If the government can prove this aspect of the case, it will be exceptionally difficult for the former president to mount a defense," Collins said.

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Military interests parachute into Supreme Court cases on LGBTQ rights, elections

USA Today  print


Paul Collins, a professor of legal studies and political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, speculated that the influence of such briefs likely depends, in part, on whether they're offering a fresh perspective about how a seemingly unrelated issue might have national security implications.

supreme court

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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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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.

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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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Select Publications (6)

Supreme Bias Gender and Race in U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings (Book)

Stanford University Press

Christina L. Boyd, Paul M. Collins, Jr., and Lori A. Ringhand


Paul M. Collins, Jr., and co-authors present for the first time a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics of race and gender at the Supreme Court confirmation hearings held before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Drawing on their deep knowledge of the confirmation hearings, as well as rich new qualitative and quantitative evidence, the authors highlight how the women and people of color who have sat before the Committee have faced a significantly different confirmation process than their white male colleagues.

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Trump’s latest personal attacks on judges could further weaken people’s declining trust in American rule of law

The Conversation

Paul M. Collins, Jr. and Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha


When former President Donald Trump was arraigned in a Manhattan criminal court on April 4, 2023, Judge Juan Merchan warned him to “refrain” from making social media posts that could incite violence or “jeopardize the rule of law.”

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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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