Phillip Wininger

Phillip J Wininger

[email protected]

Phillip Wininger is a PhD candidate in political science at The George Washington University, where he focuses his research on American political institutions, law, and courts.  His dissertation explores when and why societal actors, both political elites and members of the public, seek to alter judicial independence and accountability.  To provide insight, he quantitatively examines over 700 bills designed to modify judge selection and retention in state courts.  Employing a theoretical framework he develops, the analysis helps solve a puzzle:  Why are states – part of the same political system and more similar than different in most ways – moving in opposite directions along the independence-accountability spectrum?  Suggesting an answer, the research shows how institutional environments and ideology may condition the countervailing movements.  The dissertation also looks beyond legislatures to the public, which often votes on ballot measures related to judge selection.  Advancing past generalized measures of judicial legitimacy in prior research, he uses elite framing and survey experiments to explore how the public may shift its support for concrete judge selection alternatives. 

Beyond the dissertation, Phillip examines more broadly political institutions, courts, and judicial behavior at both the state and federal levels.  Prior to pursuing his doctorate, he graduated from law school and practiced as a litigator for several years.  He has also engaged with the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., where he has worked on empirical research projects that institutionally study the federal courts.    

Curriculum Vitae


M.A., Political Science, University of Kentucky
J.D., University of Kentucky
B.A., Political Science and Economics, Western Kentucky University