About

Hi. I’m Professor of Politics and Affiliated Professor of Law at New York University. I’m also the Director of The Policing Lab @ NYU and Chief Science Officer at The Policing Project at NYU Law.  I have served as Chair of NYU’s Department of Politics and as Interim Dean of NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science.

My CV can be downloaded here. My email is anna [dot] harvey [at] nyu. My mailing address is Department of Politics, New York University, 19 W. 4th St., New York, NY 10012. My office number is 308.

My work with The Policing Lab and the Policing Project involves using data science and social science to try to improve public safety. We are working with several law enforcement jurisdictions to evaluate the impacts of a variety of policing practices on affected communities, and to develop data-driven policy alternatives. Our goal is to identify practices and policies that have maximal benefits for public safety with only minimal social and resource costs. In our work we are using a variety of methods, including experimental, quasi-experimental, and algorithmic techniques.

My other work generally concerns questions of inequality and redistribution. One current project, joint with Emily A. West (NYU Politics PhD student, soon to join the University of Pittsburgh), investigates discrimination in public accommodations. We leverage the Supreme Court’s 1883 strike of the public accommodations provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1875, along with ex ante variation in state-level statutes, to identify the causal impact of a federal statute protecting access to public accommodations. Using repeated medical exams of Union Army and U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) veterans, and a series of discontinuity and placebo designs, we find that the Court’s ruling led to large relative weight losses for USCT veterans in states without state-level statutes, and to corresponding relative weight gains for Union Army veterans in the same states. These findings suggest that, despite popular skepticism about the importance of discrimination in public accommodations, this form of discrimination in fact has material negative impacts on the well-being of its victims, and that statutes prohibiting such discrimination can mitigate these impacts.

A second project investigates the causal impact of money in elections. One paper in this project uses the Supreme Court’s ruling in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) to identify the causal impact of removing state limits on campaign spending.. Buckley appears to have led to increased Republican voteshares, increased Republican candidate entry, and decreased Democratic candidate entry in state legislative and gubernatorial elections in states affected by the ruling, and to both increased Republican House voteshares and the election of more conservative freshman Republican House incumbents in states both affected by the ruling and holding concurrent federal and state elections. These findings may provide a causal underpinning for the observed correlations between increased campaign spending, increased Republican electoral success, and increased Republican conservatism since the mid-1970s.

In The Civil Rights Cases (1883) and Buckley v. Valeo (1976), unelected judges struck federal statutes enacted by legislative majorities; legislative supermajorities are required to overturn these rulings. In another project I investigate the historical origins of this form of “entrenched” judicial review. Among those current democracies that were former colonies, the presence of entrenched judicial review is strongly associated with pre-colonial histories of marked inequality, a finding consistent with the hypothesis that entrenched judicial review was adopted at least in part to preserve pre-colonial inequality from legislative redistribution.

Yet unelected judges are not necessarily unresponsive to legislative preferences. In the U.S., federal judges serve only on the condition of good behavior, and congressional majorities control judicial salaries, budgets, and jurisdiction. In A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy (Yale University Press, 2013), I reported evidence indicating that, even in constitutional cases, the U.S. Supreme Court defers to congressional preferences, in particular to the preferences of majorities in the House of Representatives (the chamber that originates both impeachment and appropriations actions). To view an interview about A Mere Machine on CSPAN’s Book TV, click here.

In order to generate the findings reported in A Mere Machine, several methodological challenges had to be addressed. These challenges included constructing an objectively defined measure of the ideological direction of Supreme Court judgments, the initial work for which was done jointly with Michael J. Woodruff (former NYU Politics PhD student). They also included addressing the selection bias in the Court’s docket, the early work for which was done jointly with Barry Friedman (NYU Professor of Law) (here and here). Other work on the responsiveness of the Supreme Court to congressional preferences may be found here and here.

In earlier work I investigated the proposition that partisanship may be modeled as a social convention, providing social benefits to in-group members (and social penalties to out-group members). Electoral laws that make partisan acts more public (e.g. party registration) or less public (e.g. secret ballots; party primaries rather than caucuses) will then affect the ability of neighbors to coordinate on local party social conventions, a hypothesis for which there is empirical support.

This work on partisanship as a social convention grew out of my first major project, which investigated the competition to mobilize women’s votes after constitutional female suffrage. In Votes without Leverage: Women in American Electoral Politics, 1920-1970 (Cambridge University Press, Series on the Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions, 1998), I suggested that, if there is a significant social component to turnout and partisanship, then competition to mobilize votes through social networks will be much like competition to mobilize consumers of services offered through networks (e.g., telephone networks). Markets for networked services are generally marked by imperfect competition, with early entrants having significant advantages over later entrants. Likewise, the decision by the National League of Women Voters (the former female suffrage organization) in 1923 to cede the market in women’s votes to the party organizations may have followed from its necessarily late entry into this imperfectly competitive market. Votes Without Leverage built on articles published here and here. A post on Vox in honor of the 100th anniversary of Jeannette Rankin’s 1917 swearing-in as the first woman to join the House of Representatives may be found here.