In the Spotlight

The 2015 Supreme Court decision on gay marriage ratified a shift in American public opinion. At a pivotal moment three years ago, the state of Maine – with many older voters – became one of the first to Iegalize gay marriage by popular referendum. To explain how this happened, Amy Fried and Rob Glover underline the power of empathetic messages invoking widely shared family values, courageously delivered by straight as well as gay Mainers invoking personal stories.

Late June brings decisions from the Supreme Court – and June 2015 will long be remembered for blockbuster pronouncements.  Writing for the media or cited in analyses by journalists, SSN scholars are weighing in on the implications of the Court’s rulings for the future of American society, public policy, and politics. 

Donald F. Kettl
University of Maryland School of Public Policy

Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, touts legal blows landed against his state’s unions and universities, hoping that mobilizing resentment against “privileged” teachers and professors can propel him to the White House – where, SSNer Don Kettl explains, he would intensify attacks on public agencies and employees.

On June 3rd, Judith Scott-Clayton testified before a Senate committee on making college more affordable. Simplifying solutions such as informing students how much aid they will receive long before they apply and automatically tying how much they pay back per month to their income can improve access and success for all students. (Watch at 40:00).

As David Broockman, SSN Member and former Bay Area Graduate Fellow, completed his PhD at Berkeley and prepared to assume a Stanford professorship, he uncovered a major academic fraud. In a remarkable display of personal ethical resolve, he alerted fellow scholars and the larger public.

David M. Konisky
Associate Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University

Despite promises to protect and elevate environmental quality for all citizens, poor and minority communities across the United States still bear the brunt of toxic pollution. A new edited volume probes previous shortcomings and asks how government can do better at ensuring environmental justice.