Tom Burke is the Ralph Emerson and Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. He has been a visiting professor at Berkeley Law School and Harvard as well as a research fellow at the Brookings Institution and with the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Program.

Burke's research focuses on the role of rights and litigation in public policy, and the ways in which organizations respond to rights claims. He is the co-editor, with Jeb Barnes, of Varieties of Legal Order (Routledge, 2017) and the co-author with Barnes of How Policy Shapes Politics (Oxford University Press, 2015). Recent publications include "The Civil Rights Template and the Americans with Disabilities Act" (in The Rights Revolution Revisited, Cambridge University Press 2018),  "Layering, Kludgeocracy and Disability Rights" (Social Policy and Society, 2017), and an article for the Washington Post (2015) on why it's so hard to reform disability insurance programs.

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Burke has written about the Americans with Disabilities Act, disability politics in the European Union, American campaign finance law, and the Supreme Court's First Amendment jurisprudence. He is the co-author, with Lief Carter, of the 9th edition of Reason in Law (University of Chicago Press, 2016), and is the author of Lawyers, Lawsuits and Legal Rights: The Struggle Over Litigation in American Society (University of California Press, 2002).