Parker Abt

Penn Humanities Forum Undergraduate Fellow

20172018 Forum on Afterlives

Parker Abt

History

CAS, 2019

Parker is a junior majoring in History. His primary academic interest is the intersection of American legal and economic history. He recently researched the history of a federal tax on horse-drawn carriages that lasted from the 1790s to 1810s. That research will be published in an article for the University of Michigan’s undergraduate history journal. Parker also has articles forthcoming in undergraduate academic journals at Penn and Gettysburg College. Last summer, Parker worked at the American Enterprise Institute, where he published research on violent crime and opioid abuse. In his free time, Parker likes to watch ice hockey and record rock music.

PAC Men: How the Civil Rights Movement Inadvertently Created Dark Money in Politics

The afterlives of court decisions can often be more impactful on the country than their effect on the named parties. Sometimes, court decisions meant to achieve a public good can create precedents with unintended negative consequences. In the 1950s, a series of civil rights cases including NAACP v. Button and NAACP v. Alabama allowed activists to pursue their cause in the Deep South in the name of free speech and free association. But the precedents set by those cases have been used by political nonprofits in recent years to have an undue influence on policy decisions at the state and federal level. This study will use trace federal court cases to show how the law opened to allow for such holes and then use secondary sources to determine the scope of how the loophole was exploited through the names of famous organizations.