James L. Gibson, the Sidney W. Souers Professor of Government, and Michael J. Nelson, PhD ’14, have won the Virginia Gray Book Award for Judging Inequality: State Supreme Courts and the Equality Crisis (Russell Sage 2021). The award is given by the American Political Science Association (APSA) annually to the best political science book published on U.S. state politics or policy in the preceding three calendar years.
In Judging Inequality, Gibson and Nelson present findings from a multi-year study that challenge assumptions about state supreme courts. They found that most state supreme courts act as an extension of the forces in power in a state at the moment. As a result, the highest state courts often fail to advance equality and rule in favor of more privileged litigants.
Over the course of Gibson’s career, five of the subject matter sections of the APSA have given Gibson an award for his work, demonstrating the range of political issues and questions his research addresses. Earlier, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the APSA's Law and Courts section. In 2021, Gibson received the Harold Lasswell Award for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment in Political Psychology from the International Society of Political Psychology for having made a distinguished scientific contribution to the field.