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The Constitution of Electoral Speech LawThe Supreme Court and Freedom of Expression in Campaigns and Elections$

Brian K. Pinaire

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804757249

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804757249.001.0001

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(p.245) Appendix Interview Methods and Protocol

(p.245) Appendix Interview Methods and Protocol

The Constitution of Electoral Speech Law
Stanford University Press

BECAUSE OF MY INTEREST in understanding how cases were constituted—that is, how they came to be what they were in the end, how they changed along the way, and what the factors and forces were that influenced these developments—I arranged to conduct interviews with those individuals who figured prominently in each of the four case studies, from the roots of the controversy through the U.S. Supreme Court's review of the case. By scrutinizing briefs, newspaper articles, reports, lower court opinions, and various other archival sources, I was able to populate a list of those eight to twelve individuals central to the constitution of each case. I wrote to each person, following up with phone calls, and eventually scheduled interviews (mostly on-site and in person, though a few were conducted by phone) with thirty-three people during the period of May 28–July 6, 2001.

I traveled first to Ohio, then to Tennessee, then to Missouri, and finished with Colorado. Being in the “field” in this sense allowed me to concretize many of the particular problems discussed in the cases and afforded me, as well, the opportunity to add another nine individuals to my schedule (referred, as I was, by my original sources—for a grand total of forty-two). Several of these people were subjects that I had attempted to contact, unsuccessfully, and thus as with many research methods, there was some measure of serendipity in just “hanging around,” as some practitioners of qualitative methods are inclined to say. Most interviews lasted about an hour and a half, with the shortest taking only thirty minutes and the longest going past the three-hour mark. With a few exceptions (where it seemed imprudent or where chaos reigned—such as in a few judicial chambers!), I audiotaped the interview and then immediately transcribed it. When taping was not an option, I took copious notes and drafted a report on the interview immediately thereafter. These transcriptions and reconstructions were essential to my analysis of the interview data, (p.246) particularly in teasing out themes in various arguments and the strategic approaches to each case before the Supreme Court.

I have not included the names of those interviewed, choosing instead to refer to them as “state officials,” “judges,” “election officials,” “activists,” “advocates,” “counsel,” and so on. In those passages where the above are antecedents, I have opted for “she” as the third-person pronoun. In the notes I refer to them by number (#1–42). Certainly each individual interviewed was—by her or his involvement in this case or by her or his career choice—a “public figure,” but I have chosen to preserve anonymity for purposes of candor and in the interest of discretion. Suffice to say that those I spoke with are people one would need to speak with to understand the nuances of these cases. I am grateful to each of them for sharing their time and insights.