Eric van der Vort

Political Science / Ph.D. Candidate

Eric van der Vort

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American Politics, Law and Courts


American constitutional law and development; LGBT politics; public law; emotion, morality and hierarchy; politics and fiction; normative theory


Eric joined the Maxwell School in 2011. He graduated from Indiana University with a BA in Political Science and an Area Certificate in Jewish Studies in 2009, and an MA in Political Science from Ball State University in 2011. He also studied at the University of Kent at Canterbury in the United Kingdom.

Research Projects


Families, Soldiers, and Workers: Litigation, Political Strategies, and LGBT Inclusion in the United States


My dissertation project examines the causes for success and failure for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (hereafter LGBT) rights claims in the political arena. Among civil rights movements, LGBT advocates are particularly noted for their reliance upon litigation as an instrument for social change. Yet litigation is most effective for only some types of rights-claims - those that can be credibly brought before the judiciary. This dissertation examines the ways in which litigation has been employed by the LGBT rights movement, as well as individual litigants and allies, as part of a broader political strategy to pursue various LGBT friendly policies. Using four issue areas as the basis of a small-n comparative analysis, historical and contemporary materials are used to examine how litigation has been used - whether successfully or not - in attempts to overcome legal and political barriers to the enactment of these policies. These four issue areas are same-sex marriage, adoption and custody law, workplace discrimination, and open military service.