Stephen C. Phillips
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Florida
"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions... But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
Thomas Jefferson (1816)
Stephen's research agenda is motivated by an interest in institutional and ideational development, parties in government, legislative behavior, and political strategy.
His dissertation examines the link between constitutional interpretation and development and temporality through American history. The project is heavily influenced by constitutional law, history, philosophy, and political science. The goal of the dissertation is to examine periodicity with a focus on the unique way that the U.S. Constitution enables, shapes, and is altered by periods of significant legal, economic, technological, and social change. Using an empirical framework, periodicity is examined through a systematic lens, providing a new and dynamic portrait of American constitutionalism and our nation’s evolving democracy.