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BC Prof. Honored for 'Lasting Contribution'
by American Political Science Assocation

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (October 2012)R. Shep Melnick, the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics at Boston College, has received the 2012 "Lasting Contribution Award" from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association.  This award is given annually for a book or journal article, 10 years or older, that has made a lasting impression on the field of law and courts.

R. Shep Melnick
R. Shep Melnick

Describing Melnick’s book Between the Lines:  Interpreting Welfare Rights (Brookings Institution Press, 1994) as "seminal," the award committee noted that "its emphasis on the role of courts in the policy-making process makes it a foundational study in the discipline.

"Noted for its exhaustive research and incisive analysis, Melnick’s book sets the framework for understanding statutory decision-making by lower federal courts.  Between the Lines seamlessly integrates courts into the rest of the political system and has informed both research and teaching within the subfield of courts and law for almost two decades."

“Since I worked on Between the Lines for over a decade, it is particularly gratifying to know that many people read it, and that it gave those readers a better understanding of the role courts play in American politics and policymaking,” said Melnick.

Last year, he began teaching a course at the Law School on the relationship among courts, legislatures, and administrative agencies, "a continuation of the type of interdisciplinary work that I undertook in Between the Lines, and that continues to be at the heart of my teaching and research,” he said.

Melnick’s book is frequently assigned both in political science courses and in law schools.

His previous book, Regulation and the Courts: The Case of the Clean Air Act, also published by the Brookings Institution, examined the roles played by courts, agencies, and Congress in the making of environmental policy.  He is currently finishing a book on how competing institutions have shaped civil rights policy.

Melnick teaches courses both in the Political Science Department and at the Law School at Boston College, including a current undergraduate course on "Tip O'Neill and the Evolution of American Politics" to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, a 1936 alumnus of Boston College.