Postdoctoral Fellow and Emerging Scholar in Government
Franklin & Marshall College
I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Government Department at Franklin & Marshall College. My research and teaching interests lie primarily at the intersection of contemporary political theory, public law, and American politics, with specific interests in democratic theory, constitutional law, and American social and political thought. I received a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University in 2014. I also hold law degrees from the University of Oxford, which I attended as a Rhodes scholar, and the National Law School of India. I have previously been a postdoctoral fellow at the McCoy Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford University, as well as at the Political Theory Project at Brown University.
My research revolves around two main themes. In the first instance, I am concerned with the problem of money in politics, and with the increasing influence that the wealthy exert over political outcomes in the United States. Pursuant to this theme, I am currently working on a book manuscript titled Why Campaign Finance Matters: Normatively Evaluating the American Electoral Spending Regime, which offers a novel critique of the American campaign finance system. In contrast to existing critiques, which typically assert that the way in which American elections are funded leads to voter misinformation and gives rise to political corruption, I argue in this book that the real problem with the US' campaign spending system is that it confers a prominent gatekeeping role upon the wealthy. Given the high costs of election campaigns in the United States, it is typically only candidates who enjoy the backing of wealthy donors who are able to run effectively for higher office. The decisions that these candidates take once elected, unsurprisingly, tend to systematically track the wishes of the affluent and the well-off, often at the expense of the preferences and interests of citizens of ordinary means. The main issue with the American campaign spending system, on my account, is thus that in allowing the wealthy to determine who runs for election, and how well they are able to do so, it creates serious asymmetries in the distribution of political power.
I am also concerned, in my research, with examining the extent to which the right to free speech ought to be protected against governmental regulation in liberal and democratic societies. I have written and published on a number of topics in this area, and have invoked a variety of approaches - ranging from the doctrinal to the historical to the analytical - in the course of doing so. Recent work in this theme includes projects which seek to explain why John Stuart Mill favored near-absolute protection for the freedom of speech, identify the right to advocacy as being the central component of the protection that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution offers for the freedom of expression, and query whether campaign spending ought to be protected as speech by courts under the First Amendment.
I have taught courses on global justice, the history of political thought, and constitutional law and theory at Stanford, Brown, and Harvard. I have also been a teaching fellow for courses on constitutional design, theories of justice, political ethics, the history of American political thought, democratic theory, American political institutions, and international law and relations.
My graduate research received the support of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, the Harvard University Center for American Political Studies, and the Tobin Project.