Tabatha Abu El-Haj’s principal interest is the American political process, including the ways it is structured by constitutional law and the administrative state. With a background in the sociology of law, she is particularly interested in increasing the democratic accountability of political institutions through political participation.
Professor Abu El-Haj has written extensively about the right of peaceable assembly. Her current work, however, focuses on reimagining the freedom of association in light of empirical research on how associations foster democratic participation and the implications for how lawyers and policymakers should approach both civic associations and political parties. Her first, in a trilogy of articles extending the theoretical account offered in “Friends, Associates and Associations: Theoretically and Empirically Grounding the Freedom of Association” in 2014, is forthcoming the Boston College Law Review and is entitled “Beyond Campaign Finance Reform.”
Professor Abu El-Haj’s prior publications include "The Neglected Right of Assembly," in the UCLA Law Review, and “Changing the People: Legal Regulation and American Democracy," in the New York University Law Review. Shorter pieces by Professor Abu El-Haj include: “Defining Peaceably: Policing the Line Between Constitutionally Protected Protest and Unlawful Assembly” in the Missouri Law Review; “Withdrawal of McConnell’s Campaign Finance Rider Only Short-Term Reprieve,” which appear in The Hill; and “By Undermining Unions, The Roberts Court Will Do Still More Damage to Our Democracy,” which appeared on Balkinization.com.
Professor Abu El-Haj received her doctorate in Law and Society from New York University. Her dissertation, "Changing the People: Transformations in American Democracy (1880-1930)," documents the rise of municipal ordinances requiring permits for public assemblies and argues that American democracy was fundamentally transformed in the 20th century as the nature of state regulation of democratic politics changed. She received her JD from New York University School of Law, where she was a Furman Fellow and graduated Order of the Coif. In 2005-2006, Professor Abu El-Haj clerked for the Honorable Harry T. Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.