In the spring of this year, John Hermann, associate professor of political science, published an article titled â€œLegislator Judges: The Warren Court and Justicesâ€™ Use of State or International Policies in Criminal Procedure Cases.â€ This article is only the beginning of Hermannâ€™s research on the Supreme Court.
â€œThe Warren court is supposed to be the most liberal court ever and it assumed its own moral agenda, but what I found was that it relied on state and foreign laws,â€ Hermann said. â€œIâ€™ve always been interested in how the Supreme Court makes decisions, and I started asking my students â€˜why is the court doing this?â€™â€
Hermannâ€™s research idea stemmed from teaching a class on civil rights and liberties. â€œMiranda v. Arizona,â€ in particular, brought the subject to Hermannâ€™s attention.
â€œI found something really interesting in cases that many people have heard of, like â€˜Miranda v. Arizona.â€™ You get notified of your Miranda rights, but thatâ€™s not in the Constitution. When the Courtâ€™s ruling against the government and in favor of the individual, rather than the government, it is likely to use state laws that agree with itâ€™s side, or in some cases foreign laws,â€ Hermann said. â€œIt did that in â€˜Miranda v. Arizona.â€™â€
When Hermann became interested in this topic, he noticed that no one had written about it before. This void in the literature led Hermann to begin his research in 2012 on how the Supreme Court makes these decisions.
â€œThe Court is ruling laws unconstitutional based on what other states already do, and that is how it is justifying its decision, which raises a lot of questions,â€ Hermann said. â€œIt is not basing its decisions on the Constitution, which is what it is supposed to.â€
Hermann hopes to send out the second part of his Warren court research in the next month. Currently, he is researching the ways in which the Supreme Court makes decisions regarding the issue of the right to privacy. His research involves going through a case-by-case process, with each case usually around 50 pages long.
â€œThe biggest obstacle is learning how to balance research, teaching and advising,â€ Hermann said. â€œI hope to present my research on privacy in the spring, but itâ€™s a long process.â€