Professor named Carnegie Scholar

Political science professor Sarah Binder will conduct research on the politics and process of federal judicial selection over the next two years, made possible by her recent selection as a 2003 Carnegie Scholar. The award, given out annually to emerging scholars, will provide Binder with up to $100,000 over the next two years to pursue her studies.

Binder is researching critical questions about the selection of judges for lower federal courts, such as why the process is so polarized by partisan politics and how political issues can be resolved. Binder said she will research why breakdowns in the process occur and then offer solutions contributing to reform in judicial appointment politics.

“I’d like to be able to contribute in diffusing some of the conflict that comes up over the selection,” Binder said.

Binder is on leave from teaching this semester and plans to be on leave again during fall 2004.

Binder said she has been researching the often-controversial confirmation process of judicial and executive branch appointees for the past year along with GW colleague Forrest Maltzman, an associate professor of political science.

The Carnegie Corporation selected Binder from 144 nominees, each of whom submitted a brief summary of their proposed research. Out of the nominees, 48 were invited to provide more extensive project descriptions. The finalists’ project descriptions were then read and evaluated by various committees.

The Carnegie Corporation announced its 13 scholars in May, ending a competitive five-month-long selection process.

Applicants must be nominated to be considered for the honor. Binder’s colleague, Tom Mann, a senior fellow of governance at the Brookings Institution, nominated Binder. She is also a resident scholar at the independent think tank, which conducts research on public policy, political behavior and political institutions.

Mann has known Binder for about a decade, since she was a Brookings Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota.

When he learned Binder was selected for the honor, Mann said he was “absolutely delighted, but not surprised.”

“She is an extraordinary scholar and a lovely person, most deserving of this award,” Mann said.

Binder said she hopes her project will bring about new thoughts and opportunities in the future.

“Research always leads to new ideas,” Binder said.

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