A West Virginia University political scientist who explores the American legal systems influence on political and social conduct has claimed the schools premier research honor.


Richard A. Brisbin Jr., who has researched such topics as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the 1989-90 strike at Pittston Coal, is the recipient of a 2003 Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award. The award recognizes WVU faculty for their achievements in research and scholarly activities.


“Dr. Brisbins study of judicial politics has been far-reaching, and his passion for his research is great, making him the ideal recipient for this award,”said C.B. Wilson, associate provost for academic personnel and chairman of the selection committee.


For being named a Benedum Distinguished Scholar, Brisbin will give a public lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in the Mountainlair Rhododendron Room. He will accept his $2,500 award at a special Weekend of Honors convocation at 7 p.m. Friday, April 11, in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.


Brisbin, an associate professor of political science, researches legalism, or rule-following, and its role in determining acceptable political and social behavior. He has written extensively about this topic in two books, several book chapters and numerous articles for professional journals.


In his book”Justice Antonin Scalia and the Conservative Revival (1997),”he explores how legalism conceals the political conduct of the judiciary and legal profession, making law a political power tool of the elite.


His latest book,”A Strike Like No Other: Law and Resistance During the Pittston Coal Strike of 1989-90 (2002),”delves into how the rule of law suppresses highly charged discourse and behavior such as those employed by striking Pittston Coal miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.


Brisbin is currently researching and writing about how legalism evolves in response to cultural change and new technology, particularly with regard to freedom of expression interpretations over sexual portrayals in the media.


He has also co-authored two other books �€”West Virginia Politics and Government (1996)”and”School Desegregation and Defended Neighborhoods: The Boston Controversy (1982)”�€and served three years as editor of The Law and Politics Book Review, an online publication of the American Political Science Association.


Brisbin joined the political science faculty in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in 1986. He has a bachelors degree in government from West VirginiaWesleyanCollege and masters and doctoral degrees in political science from JohnsHopkinsUniversity.


His other honors include an Outstanding Researcher Award from EberlyCollege and the Franklin C. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha Award for best paper presented at the 1996 meeting of the American Political Science Association.


Brisbin said he is honored to receive the Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award as a validation of his lifes work.


“It is a singular honor to be recognized for a body of theory-driven work that, although on distinctive substantive topics, seeks to address the disparate ways by which the American politics of law and rights too often fails to improve the human condition,”he said.


The Benedum and Distinguished Professors of WVU established the Benedum Distinguished Scholar Awards in 1985-86 to honor and reward University faculty for excellence in research, scholarship or creative endeavors. The awards recognize either a single recent achievement of note or a long, distinguished career that is still ongoing. The program is funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and coordinated by the Office of Academic Affairs and Research.