Lynda Dodd photo

Lynda G. Dodd

Joseph H. Flom Professor


The Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies (PDF)
Department of Political Science
The City University of New York – City College


160 Convent Ave. NAC 4/134
New York, NY 10031


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Articles & Book Chapters
Works in Progress



Taming the Rights Revolution: The Supreme Court, Constitutional Torts, and the Elusive Quest for Accountability (manuscript under review)

Articles & Book Chapters


The Rhetoric of Gender Upheaval During the Campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment,” _ B.U. L.R. _ (2013) [SSRN]

This essay examines the anti-suffragists’ rhetoric of gender upheaval during the final years of the suffrage campaign in order to more precisely identify their concerns and justifications regarding the virtues of traditional gender roles and women’s civic membership. When scholars of the history of women’s civic status focus on “patriarchy’s appeal” to “dominant white male citizens,” they miss the prevalence of the women who opposed changes to their own civic status. This essay explores their arguments in two leading anti-suffrage journals, The Remonstrance and The Woman Protest, and considers what their legacy might offer to today’s debates regarding the evolution of women’s roles.

Feminist Legal History Book CoverSisterhood of Struggle: Leadership and Tactics in the Campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment,” in Feminist Legal History (T.J. Boisseau & Tracy A. Thomas eds., New York University Press, 2011) [SSRN] Buy Now

This chapter examines the role of Alice Paul's leadership in securing passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Recent scholarship on popular constitutionalism reminds us that constitutional history encompasses more than the work of litigators and judges; it also addresses movements for social and political reforms, including constitutional amendments. To achieve success, reformers must consider opportunities and constraints posed by the broader social and political context, make use of available resources, and devise appropriate tactics. All these strategic choices depend upon effective leaders and organizations. When the twenty-eight-year-old Paul assumed the leadership of the militant suffrage campaign, she sought to establish her place among an older generation of remarkable female reformers and activists: Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Carrie Chapman Catt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Florence Kelley, Mary Church Terell, Lillian Wald, among many others. Historians like Anne Firor Scott have called attention to the "extraordinary efflorescence of female leadership" in this era, and a rich literature in women's history has examined these leaders' lives and legacies. Paul's work in the militant suffrage campaign is one of the most notable examples of successful leadership in the "age of reform," and yet her role has never received similarly sustained appraisals.


This chapter focuses, in particular, on two important features of Alice Paul’s strategy: her use of a passionate politics relying on emotional appeals for recruitment, mobilization, persuasion, and contention; and her commitment to unruly defiance, through the party accountability campaigns and wartime acts of civil disobedience. Rather than simply describe these tactics and their results, this chapter instead draws on recent scholarship examining the role of leadership style and organizational form in social movements—what one scholar has called "strategic capacity"—in order to explore how these strategies were chosen and implemented, and to assess the strengths and weaknessl's appes of Pauroach.

Presidential Leadership and Civil Rights in the Era Before Brown,” 85 Ind. L.J. 1599-1657 (2010) [SSRN]

Influential scholarship by political scientists studying the courts has highlighted the ways that leaders of political regimes, especially presidents, use judicial politics to promote their agendas. Taking the Truman administration's efforts to reform civil rights enforcement policies as an exemplary case study of presidential leadership, this article offers a critique of recent scholarship that centers the analysis on the institutional resources of the presidency. Through an extensive review of leading newspapers of the era and the archival records of the President's Committee on Civil Rights (PCCR), this article instead highlights the work of social movement leaders, interest groups, and the African American press in organizing and calling for presidential action and more vigorous enforcement by federal government prosecutors. The result was an interactive dynamic of pressure and change. Civil rights leaders' forceful advocacy moved the president to act, and Truman's leadership—creating the PCCR, ordering the desegregation of the military, and raising the stature of the civil rights movement in a series of important presidential addresses—offered an unprecedented level of support to the cause of civil rights, even as his proposals for civil rights legislation were thwarted in Congress. This same interactive process produced one of the unheralded achievements of this historic presidential committee: the PCCR's endorsement of calls, from the NAACP and other civil rights attorneys, for a more active amicus practice in the Solicitor General's office, an endorsement that triggered an abrupt change in the federal government's amicus role. Previous scholars have described this amicus policy shift as an example of independent executive branch action to promote civil rights. This article instead reveals longstanding resistance by the Justice Department to a robust amicus practice and shows that the origins of the policy shift are properly located in the private civil rights bar's advocacy, bolstered by the support of the PCCR.

Parades, Pickets, and Prison: Alice Paul and the Virtues of Unruly Constitutional Citizenship,” 24 J. Law & Pol. 339-433 (2008) [SSRN]

In recent years, constitutional scholars have debated the role of citizens in interpreting and transforming the Constitution. Yet for all the recent interest in "popular constitutionalism," constitutional scholars have devoted surprisingly little attention to the habits and virtues of citizenship that constitutional democracies must cultivate, if they are to flourish. This article analyzes the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment led by Alice Paul's Congressional Union and National Woman's Party (NWP). To evaluate the impact of Paul's unyielding campaign of wartime picketing and prison protests in convincing President Wilson to endorse the federal amendment and to work on its behalf, the article scrutinizes the relationship between Paul's more militant tactics and the conciliatory posture adopted by her rival Carrie Chapman Catt and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The article offers an interdisciplinary analysis of Paul's strategy that incorporates the insights of research on American political development, social movements, interest groups, electoral politics, and presidential leadership, and draws on the archival records of the NWP, presidential papers, and contemporary newspaper coverage.


Paul's more unruly methods played a decisive role in obtaining the necessary congressional votes in the House and Senate during Wilson's second term. Paul refused to merely to play the role of the insider lobbyist. She instead perfected the an outsider strategy that by appealing directly to voters and the public—first through parades, deputations, petitions, and other well-publicized events, and later through much more oppositional activities, such as anti-incumbent campaigns, pickets, and prison protests. Paul had an astute sense of the power of emotional appeals, and it was this feature of her outsider strategy that made the NWP such a formidable force in the suffrage movement. This kind of insider-outsider dynamic—with Catt eventually serving as the more cooperative suffrage leader, and Paul as the unruly, contentious outsider—appears to have been the crucial combination needed to gain Wilson's help in pushing suffrage through Congress in 1918-19. Paul's most controversial tactics—the picketing and protests in 1917—were implemented with such ruthless determination that Wilson and other opponents in Congress began searching for a way to end the standoff. Paul's resort to civil disobedience may have appeared unruly to her political opponents and the public, but it was in reality a tactic, like all of her strategies, chosen and deployed after a careful consideration of its political impact. That Wilson gave Catt and NAWSA all of the public credit for the shift should not obscure the crucial role that Paul's campaign played in creating this pressure. Given this success, Alice Paul deserves more recognition as a leading exemplar of the transformative model of constitutional citizenship.

Civil Rights Stories Book CoverDeshaney v. Winnebago County & the ‘Blessings of Liberty’,” in Civil Rights Stories (Myriam Gilles & Risa Goluboff eds., Foundation Press, 2007) [SSRN] Buy Now

This chapter offers a detailed portrait of the constitutional violations alleged in the DeShaney case, which involved a civil rights claim for damages against a county social worker and agency for failing to intervene to protect a young child, Joshua DeShaney, from his father’s physical abusive conduct. The chapter situates the case in the broader legal context of “failure to protect” claims under Section 1983 and provides a critical analysis of Justice Rehnquist’s bright-line distinction between state and private action.

Implementing the Rule of Law: The Role of Citizen-Plaintiffs,” 13 The Good Society (Fall 2004) (unabridged version - .pdf) [SSRN]

This essay seeks to shift the focus away from the traditional emphasis on theories of judicial decision making and the role of judicial review, in order to highlight another mechanism for implementing the rule of law: citizen lawsuits against the state. To an extent that is unprecedented in our history, citizens interact more often with, and depend more upon, government officials. Constitutional harms are inflicted every day by government officials misusing the authority granted to them under legislation that is itself constitutional. Judicial review as a mechanism for securing constitutional rights is irrelevant in such cases. Allowing citizen plaintiffs to sue the government when it abuses its authority has become an indispensable element of constitutionalism, and an essential method of implementing the rule of law. But it is also a method that has generated much criticism. In this essay, I describe the growth of opposition to citizen suits against the state, and explain why these developments are so troubling.

Works in Progress


Constitutional Torts in the Forgotten Years

The years between the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and the Court’s landmark 1961 decision, Monroe v. Pape, largely have gone unexamined in legal scholarship. When mentioned at all, legal scholars have emphasized that § 1983 was nearly dormant during these decades. The purpose of this article is to recover the story of these forgotten years in the history of § 1983 in order to challenge the conventional view marking them as a time of inaction and neglect. This article draws on the legal mobilization and American political development literatures in political science, as well as archival research in the collected papers of leading legal organizations, the Department of Justice, and Supreme Court Justices, and argues that, far from being an “unhappy history,” these decades offer crucial lessons regarding the necessary and difficult work required to build up the political and legal support for effective civil rights enforcement in the federal courts.