Tracy Lightcap

Professor Emeritus of Political Science, LaGrange College
Chapter Member: Georgia SSN
Areas of Expertise:

Connect with Tracy

About Tracy

Lightcap's research focuses on American political institutions, judicial politics, public law, and comparative judicial systems. Overarching themes of his work include law and courts, research methods, and the American polity. Lightcap also directed LaGrange College’s Capitol Hill Internship Program and taught and helped create multi-disciplinary courses at the college.



"Crucial and Routine Decisions: A New Explanation of Why Ideology Affects U.S. Supreme Court Decision Making the Way It Does" Tulane Law Review 84, no. 6 (2010): 1491-1515.

Finds that the influence of political attitudes on U.S. Supreme Court decisions is controlled by the degree of uncertainty justices have about the effects their votes have on how the law develops. Explains that the more uncertain they are about the outcomes of their votes, the more they will depend on their political attitudes.

Examining Torture: Empirical Studies in State Repression (edited with James Pfiffner) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Presents research by several scholars using both comparative case studies and statistics to analyze public acceptance of torture, how torture develops informally within governments, and what the consequences of trying to control it are.

"Academic Governance and Democratic Processes: The Entrepreneurial Model and Its Discontents" New Political Science 36, no. 4 (2014): 474-488.

Examines problems with using business methods to direct colleges and universities by a close look at the presidential selection crisis at the University of Virginia. Further examines the impact of such methods on American democracy.

"The Politics of Torture" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Presents evidence of how the use of informal institutions can undermine the rule of law when the justifications of leader's policies come under sufficient stress. Examines both torture during the "War on Terror" and its subsequent effects in the United States.