My name is Jessica Schoenherr and I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from Michigan State University in Spring 2020.
My research broadly seeks to identify and document the nature of attorneys’ influence over Supreme Court justices and the law. Decades of research on the Court begins with the implicit assumption that the justices, and the justices alone, drive legal change, because they are the ones who write the opinions. My work suggests this focus on judicial behavior ignores the role attorneys play in the decision-making process. The justices do not decide cases in a vacuum, but rather are constrained by an adversarial legal system in which the attorneys, not the justices, lay the legal groundwork and offer explanations of what the law says.
I am also interested in Supreme Court confirmation hearings and am working on several projects about attorney strategies and skills. Summaries of my working papers are available on my Research page.
When not working hard in the name of science, I enjoy watching hockey and running long distances for no reason. I am an avid Detroit Red Wings fan and am confident our new general manager will return the team to its former glory. Running is my daily sanity check and also a wonderful way to see the world. I completed the Detroit Marathon in 2013 and try to run at least one half marathon every year. I also spend a lot of time with my dogs, Emma and Jack, who are my most faithful research assistants.