Kirsten Carlson on Rethinking Legislative Advocacy

Kirsten Matoy Carlson has posted “Rethinking Legislative Advocacy” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In an age of statutes, legislative advocates influence the substantive content of almost every law. Yet scholars know very little about the role that advocates play in shaping statutory law because the study of legislative advocacy has been left to political scientists, who focus on the political rather than the legal aspects of legislative lawmaking. This Article responds to this gap in the literature by presenting an innovative, mixed methods approach to studying legislative advocacy that brings law back into the study of legislative advocacy and provides more accurate descriptions of how legislative advocates behave. This legal approach to legislative advocacy improves on the existing political science literature by emphasizing the legislative process as a lawmaking enterprise and highlighting the importance of the substantive content of statutory laws to legislative advocates and their behavior. The Article demonstrates the utility of this approach by presenting new empirical data on American Indian advocacy. My analysis produces two important insights about legislative advocates’ behavior overlooked in previous studies. First, it reveals that advocates perceive legislative advocacy to be about modifying the substantive content of a proposed law. Legislative advocates take the law seriously as they engage in nuanced and sophisticated strategies to interact with legislators and other political actors to craft statutory laws. They advocate on a wide range of proposed laws, shift their positions strategically throughout the legislative process, and frequently seek to modify proposed laws. Second, my account of Indian advocacy emphasizes that legislative advocacy involves legal as well as political work. Indian advocates regularly used legal frames and arguments to educate and persuade legislators to shape the law in ways that better responded to their needs.