The E. E. Schattschneider Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best doctoral dissertation in the field of American government.
Christina M. Kinane is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and a Resident Fellow in the Institution of Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. Her research focuses on the executive branch, Congress, and their control of the policymaking process, and has been published in the American Political Science Review. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Vacancy Politics, which examines how presidents and the Senate strategically use vacancies in presidential appointments to achieve their policy priorities. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2019.
Citation from the Award Committee:
Christina Kinane’s dissertation is an excellent piece of scholarship on an important (and relevant) question. She uncovers a puzzle in contemporary American politics—why do Presidents seek Senate confirmation for some positions while leaving others empty or with temporary appointments—and develops a new theory of appointments, which differentiates between empty positions and interim appointees. This dissertation utilizes detailed qualitative and historical data, a formal model of the decision to submit nominees for confirmation, and a novel empirical dataset to test the results of the model.
In addition to answering vital questions, Christina’s dissertation also raises new ones in need of answers. For example, how effectively can Congress control agencies that are staffed with interim appointees versus those who have been confirmed? Is it costly (in terms of other legislative priorities) for the President to bypass the Senate’s confirmation process and simply install appointees? With the rise in political polarization of the Senate indicating that interim appointees are not going away anytime soon (especially under divided government), these are open questions in need of answers. The dissertation is not going to be the last word on the issue of filling vacancies, but it is sure to be a very important contribution requiring engagement from all scholars working on these issues.
APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Chris Bonneau (Chair), University of Pittsburgh; Kenneth W. Kollman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Dr. Sharece Thrower, Vanderbilt University.