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Houston Scholar: Zachary Brown


"The Houston Scholars program has given me an outlet to express my profound interest in constitutional law and the judicial analysis of American court systems." 

Major: Political Science 
Houston Scholars Project: 
The Effect of Elected Judiciaries on Gay Rights Legal Decisions
Advisor: Dr. Francisco Cantu

Junior and Political Science major Zachary Brown will combine two of his passions – constitutional law and the progress of LGBT rights since the 1970’s – by conducting research to explore whether elected courts are more or less likely to rule in favor of gay rights.  Inspired by a recent study, which found that elected judiciaries are more likely to reject an appeal in a death penalty case, Zachary will conduct analyses to determine whether a similar correlation holds for elected judiciaries and gay rights.  Zachary’s analyses will be of judiciaries after 1971, which was the year of the historic Supreme Court order on Baker v. Nelson, which established the legal precedent allowing states to determine their own definition of marriage; specifically, to prohibit marriage between persons of the same sex.  Zachary will conduct extensive analyses of state and federal court rulings using several legal considerations, as well as extensive analyses of the judge or judiciary panels involved.  Under the supervision of Dr. Cantu, Zachary intends to write up his findings for publication. 

Future Direction:  The practice in legal research that this project will provide Zachary will complement his future goals of attending law school and a career in the judiciary. 

About Houston Scholars

Supported by the Provost's Office and the Honors College, the Houston Scholars program is designed to bolster students’ academic and professional goals through faculty mentoring, research proposal development, and a semester discussion series led by University of Houston faculty from across the campus. Houston Scholars will also learn about national and international award opportunities, and receive assistance in developing applications for competitive programs.

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