Vanessa A. Baird

Vanessa A. Baird
University of Colorado Boulder | CUB · Department of Political Science

PhD

About

28
Publications
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Introduction
My research focuses on the factors that strengthen the rule of law in seemingly unrelated fields: institutional agenda setting, the psychology of legitimacy perceptions, and the various ways people seek to redress their grievances: litigation, political participation, and violence. My latest work focuses on the limits of legal economic change, the impact of psychological insecurities on support for the rule of law, and policing.

Publications

Publications (28)
Article
Why do some people blame the political system for the problems in their lives? We explore the origins of these grievances and how people assign responsibility and blame for the challenges they face. We propose that individual differences in the personality traits of locus of control and self-esteem help explain why some blame the political system f...
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Men's indignation, it seems, is more excited by legal wrong than by violent wrong; the first looks like being cheated by an equal, the second like being compelled by a superior. ~ Thucydides
Article
Public support for minority rights plays an important role in minorities actually securing and protecting those rights. In countries where public support for minority rights is low, how can attitudes be changed? Using data from two surveys of more than 6,000 Russians each, we show that institutions have the potential to persuade about a quarter of...
Article
How does linguistic recognition in the courtroom affect popular confidence in the justice system among minorities? The authors argue (a) the recognition of either a minority language and/or a third-party’s language (lingua franca) during judicial proceedings increases confidence levels but (b) the use of a lingua franca is more effective. This is b...
Article
Full-text available
We propose that teaching critical thinking is the most important job of teachers in the political science profession. Yet political scientists rarely engage with one another about the specific assignments used to teach critical thinking. This article is the beginning of what we hope will become a dialogue on how to best teach students to think crit...
Article
The horrific 2004 hostage taking in Beslan, North Ossetia, was widely expected to provoke retaliatory violence by ethnic Ossetians against ethnic Ingush and Chechens. The peaceful political activism that ensued suggests a key to breaking the cycle of ethnic violence.
Article
Courts that perform well are the cornerstone of the rule of law and democratic development. When courts are perceived as legalistic, fair, impartial, and independent of the influence of extrajudicial actors, aggrieved individuals are more likely to pursue litigation over other, potentially unlawful, alternatives. Using original data from surveys of...
Article
We show that when justices hand down decisions that provide signals – indications of their priorities and preferences – policy entrepreneurs bring well crafted cases in those policy areas, resulting in a transformation of the Supreme Court’s agenda. The implications are twofold: 1) Supreme Court justices can summon cases onto their agenda, well bef...
Article
The U.S. Supreme Court is the quintessential example of a court that expanded its agenda into policy areas that were once reserved for legislatures. Yet scholars know very little about what causes attention to various policy areas to ebb and flow on the Supreme Court's agenda. Vanessa A. Baird's Answering the Call of the Court: How Justices and Lit...
Article
Given the centralization of power in contemporary Russia, can nonexecutive institutions exercise some power, especially institutions such as high courts, which are critical to establishing the rule of law? In particular, can high courts influence the Russian public through their power to persuade? Using experiments embedded in three surveys of more...
Article
Courts can better protect rights when citizens are willing and able to litigate in response to government abuses of power. However, if people are not socialized to the possibility of litigating against governments, why do some individuals decide to litigate? Using an original survey of victims in the Moscow theater hostage incident, we find that li...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Political scientists have long been interested in the issues ofseparation of powers and inter- institutional relations. Judicial scholars have primarily examined whether the Supreme Court is influenced by other institutions. We draw on alternative formal models and pose the theoretical and empirical possibility that other branches respond...
Article
The tendency of the media to depict the Supreme Court as inherently apolitical, some scholars argue, is part of the reason that many believe in the “myth of legality” in which the Court is perceived to operate above the ideological skirmishes of everyday politics. Our experimental analyses show that citizens react more negatively to press reports o...
Article
Using survey data from The Civic Culture study, this research note revisits the idea that institutional development across the regions of Italy differs because of varying levels of social capital. The findings indicate that – according to the earliest survey data available from Italy – it is unlikely that differences in the development of regional...
Article
This Article proposes that dissenting Supreme Court Justices provide cues in their written opinions about how future litigants can reframe case facts and legal arguments in similar future cases to garner majority support. Questions of federal-state power cut across most other substantive legal issues, and this can provide a mechanism for splitting...
Article
Full-text available
The U.S. Supreme Court is widely recognized as setting its agenda by choosing to hear certain cases and refusing to hear others. But what influence, if any, does the Court have on the types of cases that are appealed to it? The Court has no formal power to solicit cases, but I contend that potential litigants interpret politically salient Court dec...
Article
Hibbing and Theiss-Morse (1995: 158, 161) present legislatures as ‘easily the most vulnerable institution[s]’ because of the public's ‘lack of appreciation for the messiness inherent in democratic processes.’ Their finding, along with the evidence of the popularity of national high courts, implies that one possible source of support for courts migh...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this research is to examine theories of diffuse support and institutional legitimacy by testing hypotheses about the interrelationships among the salience of courts, satisfaction with court outputs, and diffuse support for national high courts. Like our predecessors, we are constrained by essentially cross-sectional data; unlike them...
Article
We thank the NSF for making this research possible (SGER SES-0317122) and Paul Wahlbeck for his helpful advice and assistance. For thoughtful and energetic collaboration, we thank the Institute for Comparative Social Research (CESSI) in Moscow and especially Anna Andreenkova. For valuable research assistance, we thank Mariam Stepanyan. For helpful...
Article
Hobbes' theory of justice dependson certain assumptions about human,nature. Specifically, he doubts our ability to reason about justice and moreover, our ability to come to some agreement about what is just. From this, heinfers that we should rely on contract and give up the search for the Summum,Bonum. This paper will analyze Hobbes's various cont...
Article
Many judicial outcomes,based on the substantial legal merits of the case could potentially be reversed if the case was decided on procedural grounds. Minority coalitions then have an incentive to signal to potential litigants that they would like to see the substance of the legal debate transformed onto a procedural dimension. This article presents...
Article
Thesis (B.A.)--University of Houston, 1993. Degree granted by Honors Program; thesis written for Dept. of Political Science. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [80]-[81]).

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Understanding why the Supreme Court has limited eras of progressive economic change
Project
Understanding how to support critical thinking skills, efficiently
Project
I am interesting in the impact of policing policy on support for the police.