Welcome! My name is Jonathan King and I am a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Michigan State University. I study American politics and research methods with a focus on the U.S. federal courts. My research is published or forthcoming at Justice System Journal and Presidential Studies Quarterly. In addition to my research, I also teach courses at MSU on Judicial Politics, Constitutional Law, and Independent Undergraduate Research.
My dissertation investigates the impact of personality on U.S. Circuit judge behavior. With funding from a National Sciences Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant (Award Number: 2017311), I collect, digitize, and make machine readable pre-confirmation speeches and textual data for judges confirmed from 1987 through the present. Applying machine learning to over 55,000 texts, I create personality trait estimates for circuit court judges on the popular “Big Five” spectrum. These personality estimates are then used to examine the influence of personality on various aspects of circuit judge behavior such as Supreme Court compliance, panel effects, and dissenting behavior.
In addition to my dissertation, I research federal judicial nominations. I have created two novel datasets comprising of: 1) nomination-level data for every judicial nomination from 1981-2020 (2500+ observations over 100+ variables) and 2) individual senator votes on judicial nominations from 1981-2020 (60,000+ observations over 60 variables). Furthermore, I have run surveys to investigate public opinion of judicial nominees as well as public opinion of Supreme Court opinion assignment.
For more on my work, please see my CV or Research page.
Prior to attending MSU for my Ph.D., I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following graduation, I worked as an academic advisor at UW-Madison for two years. Outside of research, I spend as much time as possible with my newborn daughter (Madison), my wife (Amy), and our two golden retrievers (Leslie and Perkins– yes, named after the Parks and Rec characters). We are a family of sports fans and, having been born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I am an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, Milwaukee Bucks, and all Wisconsin sports. I am a die-hard Chelsea Football Club fan and am happy to spend my (very early) Saturday mornings watching them play. Finally, I am a martial artist (taekwondo) and have trained/ instructor for over 15 years, including training a summer in South Korea.
For any questions, please feel free to contact me.