An Organized Section of the American Political Science Association
Lee Epstein, Founder (1996-2002)
Christine Harrington (2002-2009)
Artemus Ward (2009-present)
The origins of the section website date back to fall 1996. Then section chair Tom Walker reported in the Winter 1996-1997 newsletter: “At its meeting in San Francisco, the Section Executive Committee appointed a committee, chaired by Lee Epstein of Washington University, to explore the possibility of creating a Section site on the World Wide Web. Lee developed a plan for such a site, and the Executive Committee authorized her to implement the project. We are delighted that the Website is now operational…. It already contains some wonderful information, and promises to develop into a major Section resource.”
The site went “live” on October 31, 1996 at the address http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~polisci/lawcourt.html It contained a number of features that have been retained throughout the years such as information about the section—including the by-laws, officers, and awards—and links to section-supported publications such as the Law and Politics Book Review (LPBR), the section newsletter: Law and Courts, and the section discussion list. It also contained some features that have not been retained over time including a membership directory of names and email addresses, a syllabi archive, and working paper archive. Presumably these things can more easily be found these days through the APSA, SSRN, and simple web searches.
Lee Epstein and Jerry Goldman published an article in the Winter 1996-1997 newsletter detailing the new website and provided instructions on how to access and navigate it. Looking back twenty years, it may be hard for us to remember—and impossible for our junior colleagues to comprehend—just how new the idea of the internet and the world wide web was. The authors noted: “In our last column, we promised to provide step-by-step instructions on how to create your own web page. But with the creation of a web site for the Law and Court’s section, we decided to save that discussion for the Spring Issue and focus instead on the new site. To access the Law and Court’s web site, simply point your browser to http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~polisci/lawcourt.html This will take you to the Law and Court’s Home Page, displayed in Figure 1 below. Note that all items prefaced with bullets are links. Clicking on ‘By-Laws,’ for example, will take you to a page containing the by-laws of the section. And so on. Of course, we hope that you will explore the page with the browser of your choice.” How many of us recall switching from Mosaic to Netscape Navigator as our preferred browser in those early days?
One such development was a data set archive that was added a few years later. In 2002 the site moved to New York University, with Christine Harrington serving as webmaster, at the address http://www.law.nyu.edu/lawcourts. In 2009 the section decided to procure its own website independent of a university affiliation. Artemus Ward took over as webmaster and moved the site to its current web address/home at www.lawcourts.org (the section also owns the domain name lawandcourts.org).