George I.Lovell
Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies
Political Science

University of Washington


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My research looks at American political institutions, law, constitutional development, labor, and the impact of law and legal ideology on struggles for power. 

I have a new book(October 2012) with University of Chicago Press titled This is Not Civil Rights: Discovering Rights Talk in 1939 America The book examines several hundred written exchanges between citizens and government lawyers during the final years of the Great Depression.  The focus is on people who wrote letters to the federal government complaining of rights violations.  The people who wrote defied government indifference to rights violations by articulating novel demands for rights.  The exchanges provide a powerful reminder that constitutional rights protections are not some permanent gift of our "founding fathers" or the Supreme Court.  Rights protections exist, and can be maintained, only through the courageous struggles of ordinary people who maintain commitments to constitutional ideals of equality and opportunity. 

I am now working on a new book project (with my colleague Michael McCann) the looks at the struggles against economic and political injustice by Filipino and Filipino American workers in the Pacific Northwest from the 1930s to the present. 

I work occasionally with Professor Scott Lemieux of College of Saint Rose (and Lawyers, Guns and Money) on a series of articles on the political construction of judicial power.  Our articles have appeared in Studies in Law, Politics and Society and Polity.  The articles look generally at judicial power and its political roots and in particular at the role of the courts in abortion policy. 

My first book, Legislative Deferrals, (Cambridge University Press 2003) looks at how federal law shaped the development of the American labor movement in the early 20th century and shows how legislators use ambiguity to give judges the opportunity to make policy choices. The book challenges conventional understandings of both American labor history and the relationship between judicial power and democracy.  Click here for a positive review of the book.  Click here for a chance to become one of the very first people to purchase the book. 

I have also published articles on 19th century state labor legislation, the Supreme Court's progressive era decisions on federal labor legislation, and legislative delegation to the executive branch.  My C.V. provides additional information about my publications.

I have a PhD. in political science from the University of Michigan, an MA in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BA from Tufts University.