Abby Blass, Ph.D.

Researcher, Law and Political Science


Refereed Books

Abby is co-author of The DNA of Constitutional Justice in Latin America: Politics, Governance and Judicial Design, (Cambridge University Press, 2018, written with Daniel Brinks) which examines constitutional change in Latin America since 1975. They explore the creation and maintenance of systems of judicial review, with conceptual and empirical contributions to the literature on comparative institutional design and operation. They argue that high courts in the region are best understood as central components of a system of governance—not wholly or primarily as checks on political power or guardians of an original pact—and they show empirically that broader, more inclusive constitutional coalitions design courts with more formal autonomy and authority. The book was awarded the C. Herman Pritchett Award for Best Book on Law and Courts in 2018, by the Law and Courts Section of the APSA.

Refereed Articles

“Rethinking Judicial Empowerment: The New Foundations of Constitutional Justice.” 2017 International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 15 (2): 296-331. (with Daniel Brinks)

  • empirically demonstrated that broader, more inclusive constitutional coalitions design courts with more formal autonomy and authority
  • used thirty years of data across 19 countries in Latin America
  • winner of the International Journal of Constitutional Law prize for Best Paper published in the journal in 2017

    “Corruption, Political Participation, and Appetite for Reform: Americans’ Assessment of the Role of Money in Politics” Election Law Journal, December 2012. 11(4): 380-398. (peer-reviewed, with Brian Roberts and Daron Shaw)

  • tested the logic of the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decisions regarding the purported chilling effect of perceptions of government corruption on political participation

    Refereed Book Chapters

    “Roll-call Votes” In The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress. Frances Lee and Eric Schickler (eds.), New York: Oxford University Press. 575-597. 2011. (with Sean Theriault and Patrick Hickey)

  • a review of the literature on the many factors that shape roll-call votes by members of congress

    Other Projects

    Abby was a researcher for the Comparative Constitutions Project, an NSF-funded initiative to collect data on the formal characteristics of written constitutions for all independent states since 1789 in order to investigate the sources and consequences of constitutional choices, directed by Zach Elkins and Tom Ginsburg.

    Abby can be reached at