Do We Now Have a Republican/Trump Court
Jul 22, 2020 11:45 AM
Joe Kobylka
Do We Now Have a Republican/Trump Court

Joe Kobylka, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Political Science Department at SMU, earned his B.A., magna cum laude and with departmental honors, in Government and History at Beloit College (1978) and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota (1984).    Since joining the SMU faculty in 1983, he has published three books – The Politics of Obscenity (Greenwood, 1990), Public Interest Law: An Annotated Bibliography (Garland, 1992), and The Supreme Court and Legal Change: Abortion and the Death Penalty(University of North Carolina Press, 1992) – and several journal articles and book chapters (most recently, “Tales From the Blackmun Papers: A Fuller Appreciation of Harry Blackmun's Judicial Legacy,” University of Missouri Law Review, 2005, and “Smoking in the Courtroom: Law, Tobacco, and the Litigation of Health Risks,” in Ivers and McGuire, Creating Constitutional Change: People, Power and the Law, 2004).  His teaching interests touch on American constitutional law and politics, judicial decision making, and American Political Thought.  He is currently finishing a biography of former Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, under contract with the University of Virginia Press, and will then turn to a study of recent church-state litigation.

Kobylka also assisted in developing the award-winning 2007 PBS series The Supreme Court and was a “key interview” in each of its segments.  His “Cycles of American Political Thought” – 36 lectures on the development of political philosophy in America – was published by The Teaching Company in late 2006. 

Selected twice by SMU to give the Opening Convocation Address (2001, 2014) and recipient of four SMU research grants and fellowships, Kobylka has also won numerous teaching and service awards at SMU.  These include: the Deschner Award (1984), Rotunda Outstanding Professor (1986, 1993,1995, 2002, 2013), the Golden Mustang (1990), the Willis M. Tate Award (1991, 2007), Godbey Author’s Award (1992), and the SMU “M” Award (1996), “Distinguished University Citizen Award” (2004), the “SMU Student Senate Faculty Member of the Year Award” (2004), and the “H.O.P.E. Professor of the Year Award” (2011).  He was also named an inaugural recipient of the Altschuler Distinguished Teaching Award (2001), and is a member of SMU’s “Academy of Distinguished Teachers.  In Fall 2003, he received the “Bridge Building” Award from the SMU Division of Student Affairs.  He serves as faculty advisor to the Honor Council, the Political Science Symposium, and Pi Sigma Alpha.

Kobylka served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Political Science at SMU from Fall 2015 to Summer 2020, and is the incoming Chairperson of the Department.

He is married, the father of three boys, serves on the Board of Directors of the Achievement Center of Texas (a day habilitation facility for people with disabilities), and the occasionally frustrated owner of the fantasy baseball team, “Publius.”