Rule of Law Research Fellowship Program

Each spring, Loyola faculty and graduate students from across the University are invited to apply to become Rule of Law Research Fellows. Successful applicants are awarded a stipend to support their research and present their research findings during the spring semester in the annual Rule of Law Symposium.

2023-2024 Research Award Summaries

The Meaning of “Rule of Law” in Societies Seeking to Rebuild After Mass Violence

This project asks how states and societies recovering of war effectively establish, promote and maintain rule of law. To answer that question, this project will focus on the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, addressing how the effort to bring post-war perpetrators to justice has influenced policies and perceptions on the rule of law, and how post-war power-sharing peace agreements have shaped efforts to establish rule of law in theory and in practice.

Edin Hajdarpasic is an Associate Professor of History whose teaching and scholarship focuses on the history, challenges and opportunities for Balkan countries, with a special focus on Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is the author of a prize-winning book on Bosnia and the recipient of a number of research awards and fellowships.

The Intersection of Health Care, Incarceration, Re-Integration and Rehabilitation

This research explores the paradox that, while U.S. prisoners have a unique constitutional and regulatory status when it comes to health care, incarcerated persons, disproportionately persons of color, were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal of the project is to examine what pandemic responses in the carceral context revealed about standard reasoning surrounding incarceration, sentence commutation, and release of prisoners.

Takunda Matose is an Assistant Professor in Loyola’s Department of Philosophy. His work explores the concept of rehabilitation in the context of mass incarceration in the United States.

How Can the Violence Against Women Act Better Support Immigrant Survivors?

Since 2005, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has provided support to immigrants and minoritized communities impacted by domestic violence. Nonetheless, there are gaps in the legislation that impede its effective use by migrants. In addition, the gender-based focus of VAWA can make it inaccessible to male victims. This research will deconstruct the various reauthorizations of the Act and provide recommendations to make it more accessible to immigrant survivors.

Abha Rai is an Assistant Professor in the Loyola School of Social Work and Associate Director of the Center for Immigrant and Refugee Accompaniment. Her primary areas of research interest pertain to immigrant and refugee well-being with a sub-focus on gender-based violence issues. She relies on culturally responsive approaches in her research and is a community-engaged scholar.

The Fundamental Role of Policing in Advancing the Rule of Law

As calls for reducing the role of policing in society grow, there has been surprisingly limited academic literature that has comprehensively explained the fundamental role of policing in the investigation of crime, responses to public safety emergencies, deterrence of future harmful behaviors, and protection of historically marginalized communities. This research will explore the critical role of policing as a social institution, a role that can only be fulfilled if police are effectively regulated and accountable to the communities they serve.

Stephen Rushin is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Judge Hubert Louis Will Professor in the School of Law. His research on policing, criminal procedure and criminal sentencing has been widely published in leading journals.

Institutional Factors Shaping Migration-Related Policies

Using interdisciplinary elements of law, linguistics and institutional analysis, this research aims to address a significant gap in the understandings of institutional facts that shape migration-related policies and their impact on migrants’ rights. To accomplish this, the project will examine migration-related legislation in the United States and Canada, with a goal of assessing the degree to which these acts comport with the rule of law, ensure procedural fairness, protect human rights, and promote non-discrimination in the context of migration 

Naida Softic is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science. Her research uses techniques such as institutional grammar to understand the content and implications of legal language, especially as it issues of migration. 

The Potential Role of Data in the Goal of Abolishing the Carceral System

Traditionally, data and statistics have been used as a tool to increase the size and resources of the criminal justice system, from policing to incarceration. The focus of this research project is to explore the use of data in re-conceptualizing the meaning of public safety in a democracy, a vision grounded in principles of fairness, equality, opportunity and justice.

Arti Walker-Peddakotla is a Juris Doctor candidate in the School of Law and a former local elected official, who advocates for the concept of abolition democracy.

Rule of Law Principles and the Right of Appeal in Criminal Cases

This research builds on a larger project that explores the legal experience of persons who were wrongfully-convicted, with a special focus on the post-conviction proceeding. Based on interviews with exonerated men and women in non-capital cases, the project explores the legal challenges faced by exonerees, from legislation that limits the scope and timeframe of post-conviction appeals and the right to legal representation, to their interactions with legal actors in the criminal justice system.  The ultimate goal of the project is to improve policies and practices aimed at safeguarding against wrongful convictions. 

Elizabeth Webster is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. She studies all operational aspects of the criminal justice system, with a special focus on post-conviction issues.

2022-2023 Research Award Summaries

Enhancing Procedural Rights in Laws Regulating Pollution

Poor and marginalized communities have long borne the brunt of environmental hazards, including air pollution.  Members of these communities are routinely shut out of the process for deciding where polluting facilities are located and what protections must be put in place to minimize the risk of toxic exposure. One potential response to historical environmental injustice is to embed rule of law principles in legislation that governs pollution standards and practices. This research study explores whether procedural changes to the federal Clean Air Act and other environmental laws would begin to correct the imbalance of power between polluting industries and communities most affected by pollution. For example, can environmental laws be amended to provide citizens with greater procedural rights to participate in decisions about where proposed air-polluting facilities are located and greater involvement in the enforcement of clean air emission requirements?  

Elizabeth Baughman’s research interests include reducing the disparate impact of environmental toxins on communities of color by applying rule of law concepts to domestic legislation aimed at pollution reduction. 

The History and Impact of “Freedom Suits” Brought by Enslaved Persons in Colonial America

In Colonial America, some jurisdictions allowed enslaved persons, mostly Indigenous persons and Africans, to sue their purported “masters” on grounds that their capture, prosecution or loss of freedom was illegal.  Although success in these suits was limited as a result of corrupt juries, unsympathetic judges and angry “owners,” some litigants were successful in securing their freedom. The Colonial-era  “freedom suits” served as an early model for subsequent generations to challenge enslavement and discrimination by seeking legal redress through the judicial system.     

Jeffrey Glover, Ph.D, is an Associate Professor in Loyola’s Department of English. He specializes in early American literature, including a focus on issues of sovereignty and treaty rights in Indigenous communities.  

Where Do One- Party Dominant States Fall on the Democracy-Authoritarianism Spectrum?

Currently, twenty-four countries around the world hold elections but do not experience transitions of power because one political party dominates the political process. Are such countries truly democracies? How do rule of law principles such as freedom of the press, anti-corruption practices and judicial independence fare under such an electoral system? To better understand the answer to these questions, this study examines three one-party dominant systems (Botswana, Tanzania and Turkmenistan), each of which is perceived to be in a different place on the democracy-authoritarianism political spectrum. One proposed outcome of the study is a better understanding of the true meaning of democracy.

Adam Hill is a Ph.D candidate in political science whose interests include the potential for maximizing good governance practices in countries without a tradition of partisan transitions of power. 

The Political Effects of Legal Absence: Sexual Governance in South Korea

South Korean laws and institutions have responded to increased advocacy on the part of LGBTQ groups by placing members of such groups in a kind of legal limbo, where on the one hand they lack legal protections, and on the other they are not subjected to criminal prosecution. The author argues that this “legal absence” is an intentional strategy designed to keep this newly-mobilized group of activists “invisible.” The strategy is bolstered by arguments made by the Korean government that recognition of LGBTQ rights poses a national security threat from South Korea’s Chinese and North Korean neighbors and a social threat from internal groups opposed to legal protections for LGBTQ persons.

Minwoo Jung, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Loyola University Chicago Department of Sociology.  His areas of specialization include the study of gender and sexual politics, globalization and social movements. He is the recipient of several fellowship awards and his work appears in numerous academic sociology journals.

“Climate Laws” and Their Role in Advancing Environmental Justice Across the Globe

As the negative impacts of climate change mount, many countries have adopted “climate laws” intended to redress the harms experienced by people impacted by climate disasters. Using a human rights framework, Norway, for example, gives legal compensation to affected citizens. Other jurisdictions have “climate laws” that protect persons from involuntary displacement due to changing weather patterns, but provide no monetary compensation. To what extent do these laws contribute to greater environmental justice, especially for traditionally-marginalized groups and those who, by geography or other factors, are most likely to be impacted by climate change?  And does the existence of climate change laws make it more (or less) likely that litigants who seek legal redress for climate harm will succeed in their claims?

Tofigh Maboudi, Ph.D is an Associate Professor in Loyola’s Department of Political Science. His research and teaching interests focus on issues of democratization, authoritarianism, Middle Eastern politics and the impact of environmental laws on climate politics. He is the author of two books among other publications. 

The Impact of Participatory Budgeting on Voting

Representative democracy models have not always advanced the quality of life for citizens in local communities. This study uses a cross-national comparative lens to examine whether the practice of Participatory Budgeting can enhance citizen engagement, reduce corruption and promote faith in governmental institutions. Participatory Budgeting is an approach that allows local community members, especially those typically left out of the political process, to have a voice in deciding priorities for the use of public funds. The goals of the research include understanding the degree to which the adoption of Participatory Budgeting positively impacts voter turnout and electoral success.

Raluca Pavel is a Ph.D. candidate in political science whose work focuses on representative democracy-building and efforts to enhance civic engagement.  

How Respecting the Human Rights of Prisoners Affects Social and Individual Well-Being

Studies from jurisdictions outside the United States suggest that how prisoners are treated while incarcerated may influence post-release outcomes, including recidivism rates, community safety and individual well-being.  Building on this research and using mixed-method research approaches, this study explores the relationship between how prisoners are treated in the Illinois Department of Corrections and how such treatment impacts the goals of the criminal justice system upon a prisoner’s release.  

Guillermo Sanhueza is an Assistant Professor in Loyola’s School of Social Work whose work includes examining and promoting the human rights of incarcerated persons around the world. His scholarship, in particular, addresses the educational and social rights of adults and youth in Chile’s prison systems. 

The Intersection of Public Health Laws and Religious Freedom During Covid

The question of whether public health orders issued by government apply to religious organizations has profound implications for efforts aimed at stopping the spread of communicable diseases. This study examines the application and impact of public health laws during the COVID-19 epidemic, specifically the decision to exempt churches and other places of worship from a state gubernatorial order requiring the wearing of face masks in indoor public places. Questions include whether places of worship should have been exempted from the mask mandate, how individual religious institutions chose to respond to the executive order, and what impact the religious exemption had on the spread of Covid between institutions that chose to follow the mandate and those that did not.

David Slade, M.D., J.D. is an Assistant Professor in Loyola’s School of Medicine, where he specializes in   infectious diseases.

The Philosophical Underpinnings and Human Rights Implications of Civil Commitment Laws

Under our criminal justice system, most people convicted of crimes, including violent crimes, complete their sentences and are returned to society. This is true even in cases where their past behavior may suggest future criminal involvement. An exception to this practice is when an offender is sentenced to prison for a serious sexual offense. In these cases, the law authorizes prosecutors to bring a civil commitment proceeding once a defendant’s criminal sentence has been completed. If a court determines that the accused person poses an ongoing threat of sexual offending, the court may legally commit the person to a treatment facility until the court determines that he or she is deemed “fit” to return to society. This paper challenges that practice, arguing that “treatment” in this context is a form of punishment contrary to the rule of law.

Rebecca Valeriano-Flore is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy who studies the conceptual aspects of civil commitment laws as well as their disproportionate and unfair impact on marginalized members of society.

Conflicting Laws Regarding the Treatment and Use of Medical Marijuana in Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities

Federal regulations classify marijuana as a drug that has no accepted medical use given its high potential for abuse. As a result, Veterans Affairs facilities are barred from treating or approving the use of marijuana for VA patients. This policy conflicts with laws in the majority of states that now authorize medical marijuana in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions, including PTSD and pain. The purpose of this research study is to better understand how VA providers understand and deal with the possibility that some of their patients are using marijuana, potentially impacting their medical care and well-being.

Frances Weaver, Ph.D., is a Professor of Public Health Sciences in the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health. In addition, she is a health services researcher in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Hines VA Hospital. 

2021-2022 Research Award Summaries

How Does Governance Affect Public Debt in the Context of Sub-Saharan African Countries?

There has been an increase in public debt in Sub Saharan Africa and a key concern has been to identify what is driving this increase. This paper examines how governance affected public debt in 48 Sub-Saharan African countries from 2006 to 2019. Results from the Fixed Effects (FE) model generally support our hypothesis that good governance leads to a reduction in public debt in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Most specifically, we find that Control of corruption (CC), Political Stability and Absence of Violence (PSAV), Regulatory Quality (RQ), and Rule of Law (RL) have a negative significant relationship with public debt. This implies that an improvement in these indicators reduces public debt. Our results also show that the governance indicators complement one another in their influence on public debt. Therefore, the effect of good governance in reducing public debt is more elaborate when all the governance indicators are improved at the same time.  

Charlie Chilufya conducts research on the link between governance and debt accumulation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Family Separation as a Crime Against Humanity: A Call for Accountability

Between March of 2017 and January 2021, the United States government systematically separated over 5,400 children from their parents at the United States border in order to coerce deportations and deter migration of Central Americans. Children of all ages including infants and toddlers were taken from their parents and scattered across a byzantine child detention system - lost to the separated parents for months, if not years, resulting in significant ongoing harm to migrant children. The policy, as it was executed, meets the definition of several crimes against humanity under the International Criminal Court's (ICC) Rome Statute. 

Sarah J. Diaz is Associate Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children and a Lecturer in the School of Law. Her teaching and scholarship focus on the intersection of US immigration and human rights.

The Frailty of the Rule of Law in Times of Pandemic: Corruption in Ecuador and Peru

This paper presents insights into the frailty of the rule of law in Latin America and offers some insight into how the frailty of the rule of law has facilitated and worsened governmental corruption in Ecuador and Peru during the pandemic. The research looks at embezzlement of public funds, abuse of power, and influence peddling, among other issues, from January 2020 until December 2021. The preliminary results of the analyses show that governments governing by decree, as a way of fighting the crises, have further limited individual freedoms, unconstitutionally concentrated executive powers, and facilitated corruption at various levels of state administration. Associated with this, it is possible to envisage a cultural factor of those people coming to power who see rules and norms as instruments of the government for the application on the citizens, as a form of ruling by law as opposed to the rule of law. Moreover, the unclear independence or autonomy of the different powers of the State limits an appropriate check and balance and control between them. This is even more evident in the Ecuadorian case, where the appointment of high authorities of the judiciary and the general Comptroller of the State has been coopted by the executive power.

Raul Salgado Espinoza holds a PhD in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Birmingham, U.K. He is a Full Professor in the department of International Studies and Communication at FLACSO Ecuador, and a Research Fellow in the Rule of Law Institute at the Loyola University Chicago.

War by Any Other Name? Humanitarian Frames and Perceptions of Success in Military Interventions

Presidents consistently offer humanitarian justifications for military action, even when operations focus on more traditional national security goals. Leaders use humanitarian rationales because they are an effective tool for mobilizing the domestic audience, activating powerful moral mechanisms to bolster support. The presence of humanitarian claims, however, can shift not only public approval but also public expectations about how the intervention will be carried out and what objectives will be achieved. Once mobilized, does the public evaluate humanitarian efforts with the same standards it uses to assess security operations? Or do humanitarian frames create pressure for humanitarian outcomes? The paper uses a series of survey experiments to examine how the content of leaders’ justifications influences public perceptions of intervention outcomes. The first experiment demonstrates how humanitarian frames shift the public’s definition of a successful operation. The second experiment evaluates whether humanitarian justifications moderate reactions to costs, casualties, and other factors expected to decrease public support. The findings will shed light on the extent to which humanitarian frames move the goalposts for success and moderate the political risk associated with military action.  

Sarah Maxey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago. Her research and teaching focus on foreign policy, public opinion, and democratic accountability for the use of military force.

Epistemic Justice Under the South African National Unity and Reconciliation Act

South Africa is widely considered to have transitioned from an unjust and unequal nation in the early 90’s into a democratic society that is governed by a constitution which enshrines the equality of all persons in the country. The preamble of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 1995, the legislation behind the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, includes the aspirations to “recognise” and “heal the divisions of the past”. In this paper,  paper, I argue that under this process, requirements that were placed on victims to respond in a certain way to their victimhood were an instance of epistemic injustice. I aim to show that the epistemic injustice that victims experienced pertained to the dismissal of their agency as victims, and the ensuing disempowerment that accompanied that dismissal. My goal is to show that when victims of injustice are dispossessed of their right to respond on their own terms, they suffer a double injustice, even in mechanisms that are created for their pain to be acknowledged.

Keo Mbebe is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.  The main themes of Ms Mbebe’s research center around issues of justice, race, emotions, moral philosophy, philosophy of law, and history.

Medicaid Enforcement

While battles over Medicaid expansion, work requirements, and block grants have raged in the courts, media, and administrative procedures process over the past ten years, individual recipients of Medicaid and other public benefits are left with limited options to enforce their right to care. State fair hearings, required by federal law and the US Constitution to provide Medicaid beneficiaries opportunities to challenge denials and terminations of benefits and care, are now the primary enforcement mechanism. However, with limited federal guidance, fair hearing procedures and the degree of due process provided beneficiaries varies state by state. This article will analyze data collected from a 50-state survey policy surveillance project identifying cross-sectional regulations and statutes governing fair hearings procedures under state Medicaid, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs. This data provides a foundation for comparison of state fair hearing procedures and a framework for identifying best practices.

Kate Mitchell is clinical professor and director of the Health Justice Project Clinic, a medical legal partnership at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She holds a joint appointment at Stritch School of Medicine. Kate’s primary research interests relate to the intersection of poverty, health, and advocacy; interdisciplinary advocacy; racism and health equity; and access to healthcare and education.

Understanding the Rule of Law in the Workplace: The Case of No Poach Clauses in Outsourcing Agreements

In the U.S., firms generally have broad powers to regulate workers' daily lives, creating a "private government" in the words of Elizabeth Anderson. Across workplaces in the U.S., the rule of law is varied and governed by multiple statutes, but also by contracts and written policies of employers. Little is known in detail or in the aggregate about the content of firm-level employment practices. In this talk, I will describe the preliminary results of an investigation into one employment practice that is suspect in some jurisdictions and can run counter to public policy aims: the prevalence of no poach clauses in outsourcing agreements. No poach clauses are agreements between employers that restrict competition for workers, possibly lowering wages and representing unlawful collusion in the labor market.

Peter Norlander is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management at Loyola University Chicago. His research examines the balance of power in employment relationships, employment discrimination, gig work, and globalization.

A Normative Framework for the Democratic Governance of the Digital Commons

The growing economic dominance of big tech firms and digital platforms has called into question the relationship between the extraction of personal data, user-generated content, and private profit. One fundamental concern is whether digital platform users, when participating on digital platforms, are engaging in a form of exploited labor. This paper argues that this is the case—that the production of data and user generated content on digital platforms constitutes a form of digital productivity that is exploited and used in the generation of private profit. Additionally, this paper suggests that the production of data and user-generated content constitutes a type of common activity similar to, but distinct from, the labor process that occurs within traditional capitalist firms. As such, I contend that we ought to extend the normative commitments of participatory, economic democracy to digital platforms based on the principles of participatory autonomy and equal formal decision-making power. I end with a series of policy suggestions and legal interventions that sketch a more democratic vision for what I call "the digital commons."

Alec Stubbs is a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. His work focuses primarily on social and political philosophy as well as philosophy of technology, particularly issues surrounding economic democracy, post-capitalist alternatives, emerging technologies, and political resistance. "Unprotected Ukrainian Labour Migrants: Comparative analyses of integration support and protection of their rights in Poland and Slovakia"

Unprotected Ukrainian Labour Migrants: Comparative analyses of integration support and protection of their rights in Poland and Slovakia

In Slovakia and Poland, as well as in every other country of the European Union, the number of the irregular Ukrainian migrants is growing. Among them are individuals who cannot return for various reasons to Ukraine, as well as those who are heading to those countries are doing so for economic reasons. As a whole, they create one extremely vulnerable group threatened by social exclusion.The proposed study is designed to achieve two main objectives: to detect the reasons and factors of illegal (undocumented) migration from Ukraine to Slovakia and Poland and to prevent its occurrence in future. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to conduct baseline assessment and collect information from the main target group – Ukrainian illegal labor migrants in Slovakia and Poland and potential illegal migrants in Ukraine to identify which precise information, knowledge, and skills they are missing to be successfully legalized in the country of their new destination. It will be important for creating and implementing legal and institutional frameworks to provide Ukrainian labors integration and protecting their rights.

Ganna Shvachka, Ph.D., Docent. Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Rule of Law for Development Program (LLM).  She currently heads the civic association, representing Ukrainians in Slovakia "Sme Spolu" (Bratislava, Slovakia) and the charity fund "Ukraine-Slovakia SOS" (Kyiv, Ukraine).

Incitement and Free Speech Jurisprudence

My presentation will evaluate the extent to which the current incitement test from Brandenburg v. Ohio should control when faced with a realistic, serious, and intentional effort to incite violence against identifiable others in an effort to achieve the overthrow of constitutional institutions. I plan to examine the impact of the current imminent threat of harm doctrine–requiring intent, likelihood, and imminence–within the framework of the federal incitement to insurrection statute. 18 U.S.C. § 2383. The inquiry is particularly relevant in light of the charges brought by House managers in President Trump’s second impeachment trial. Moreover, I will introduce a refined test to protect core speech interests of self-realization, political engagement, and pursuit of truth, while also safeguarding representative government against realistic threats to constitutional order. 

Alexander Tsesis is the Raymond & Mary Simon Chair in Constitutional Law at Loyola University Chicago's School of Law.