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Heather Swadley

Visiting Assistant Professor

Political Science


  2. Phone: (610) 328-8126
  3. Trotter Hall 319
  4. Office Hours: Wednesdays 10:00-11:00am & by appointment

Heather Swadley is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science. Her research and teaching broadly focuses on American Politics and constitutional law. She is broadly interested in discussions regarding rights and citizenship in American Political Development (APD) and public law, as well as disability, race, and gender studies. Swadley’s research focuses on the ways in which the American court system enables and curtails citizenship rights, with a specific focus on 20th-21st Century civil rights struggles.

In her first book project, entitled Special?: The Politics of Community Integration for People with Disabilities, Swadley analyzes how citizenship for disabled people developed through public law and policy from the 1950s to the present, specifically through laws that integrate or segregate disabled people from public life. By exploring the politics of community integration in the fields of health care, housing, education, and employment, Swadley disrupts the narrative that some people are “too disabled” to participate in public life or access the full benefits of citizenship. This project is the first in APD to consider how citizenship law developed for people with disabilities. Swadley’s work on disability and citizenship has been published in ResPhilosophica and the Mitchell Hamline Law Journal of Public Policy & Practice.

Swadley’s current research focuses on the politics of the federal courts. Specifically, she concentrates on the ways federal courts decide cases on issues other than the merits, such as standing, jurisdiction, or civil procedure. Although these types of decisions are frequently neglected by political scientists as merely procedural (or too complicated), Swadley argues that civil procedure has had and will continue to have profound effects on civil rights battles—courts often sidestep the politics underlying civil rights cases by making it harder to bring these cases in the first place. She has published about the politics of civil procedure in Temple Law Review.

Swadley received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania with concentrations in American Politics and Public Law. She also holds MSc. degrees from the London School of Economics & Political Science and SOAS, University of London, as well as a J.D. from Temple Beasley School of Law. Swadley is also a licensed attorney in the District of Columbia and has consulted on matters of disability, gender, housing, and environmental policy for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Women’s Law Project, the Social Security Administration, the UK House of Commons, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Fund.

For more information, please consult Swadley’s personal website at