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Five Minutes with Stone Washington - APPAM Student Member


APPAM’s Five Minutes with… series was introduced to illuminate the work of individual APPAM members, and promote connections between members based on their shared interests. The opportunity to be profiled on our website and social media through these interviews is an exclusive APPAM member benefit!  We encourage those APPAM members interested in being interviewed to email Rebecca Cox,


Name: Stone Allen Washington
Location: Clemson, South Carolina
Place of Employment and Position: Clemson University and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Degrees, including Institutions: Bachelor’s in History from Clemson University and Juris Master from Emory University Law School
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1. When did you become interested in a degree in the field?

I first became interested in pursuing a PhD in Policy Studies during my final semester at Emory Law School. I’ve had a long-standing desire to pursue a PhD in either political science or history when I was an undergraduate student, but wanted to first fulfill my interest to attend law school in order to develop a research focus in constitutional law. Upon obtaining my Juris Master degree, I searched for the proper program that would facilitate my interdisciplinary interests in researching the intersections of law and public policy at the federal level, and found that Clemson’s PhD in Policy Studies program provided that unique opportunity.

2. Can you describe your work and position at the Manhattan Institute?

At the Manhattan Institute, I currently work as a remote Research Assistant in the areas of Legal Policy and Public Sector Union relations. I obtained this position after successfully conducting specialized research for a Senior Fellow at MI last summer, during the time that I was completing the Manhattan Institute’s Collegiate Associate program. As a Research Assistant, I am compiling data and analyzing a number of sources to shed light on key investment management trends among the largest investment corporations in the United States. I take note of key developments in corporate policies surrounding ESG investments, ETF’s, proxy voting by shareholders, and market shifts in the value of company stock among many other factors.

In my public sector research, I am assisting with several projects that examine the landscape of public sector union legal disputes surrounding the landmark Supreme Court decision of Janus v. AFSCME (2018). I examine the current status of the many union-based cases at the federal district, circuit, and occasionally U.S. Supreme Court level to isolate important legal developments in the relationship shared by unions with their non-union employees regarding agency fee collection and collective bargaining. A separate project also has me examining a number of other factors, including membership fluctuations and union governance decisions among many of the public unions affected by the Janus decision. I also help to project potential consequences for unions seeking to recover agency fees and retain solid membership rates.

3. Your doctoral research examines the decision-making process of the United States Supreme Court – what influenced this research and what is the most interesting part?

I was influenced to research the United States Supreme Court’s decision-making (certiorari) process during my first year in the Policy Studies program at Clemson. My inspiration came both from my previous Constitutional Law studies at Emory Law School, where I took a strong interest in several important cases that the Court reviewed, and through my Presidency and Public Policy graduate course at Clemson, where I first learned about the unique position of the U.S. Solicitor General.

I was fascinated by how the Solicitor General occupies an important role in government affairs, serving as both the primary lawyer for the Department of Justice who represents the executive branch before the Supreme Court in virtually every federal case, while also serving as an influential legal advocate of the Court in helping to shape the Court’s yearly docket of cases appealed to them and provide guidance on whether to review or deny certain cases. After conducting extensive research on the Solicitor General’s pivotal role in influencing how the Supreme Court decides to issue certiorari and later how to render a case decision on the merits, I knew that this was the exclusive area of law and policy that I wanted to focus most on.

4.  For many in the field, the values that they’ll hold dear throughout their careers are established while they’re still students. What values do you think you’ve developed through your program to carry you through your career?

Some of the values that I have come to develop during my studies, and in which have helped me succeed as a budding scholar include possessing a solid work-ethic, maintaining a resiliency to overcome difficult ever-changing academic challenges, an ability to adapt to new subject-matters of research, the importance of facilitating multiple tasks simultaneously, and a firm commitment to my faith in God and love for family. I believe that these values have all been paramount to enabling my success as a graduate student, while equipping me with the fortitude to succeed post-graduation.

5. What do you foresee as the greatest challenge in your post-graduation career pursuits, and how do you expect you’ll rise to it?

I foresee the greatest challenge of my career pursuits as being the difficulty in determining what my ideal career path will be upon graduating. While I possess a strong idea of where I want to work, I realize that life is full of surprises, and I often find myself modifying some of my professional interests as new professional opportunities arise and as I continue to navigate through the academic rigors of my graduate studies. The greatest challenge will thus be in balancing my various aspirations and the professional opportunities available to me post-graduation in order to properly pursue the optimal career path that is most in-line with my long-term goals.

6.  If you were to land your dream job immediately after graduation, what would it be? 

I am split between pursuing a career as a research fellow for a leading public policy think tank in the U.S. vs pursuing work as a policy analyst, program manager, or similar role for a federal agency. For the government work, I have preference toward conducting legal policy analysis in the Department of Justice or pursuing research work on policies that impact the federal court system via the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO). I am also open to working at a separate agency with similar needs to the DOJ or AO. In addition to the above, I also possess a strong desire to teach at a college or university at some point during my professional career.

7. What advice would you give high school and undergraduate students considering careers in public policy? 

I would tell them to hold firm to your career interests and to never allow anyone to downplay your dreams or aspirations. I would encourage younger students to develop their career interests as early as possible and to not be afraid of consulting with seasoned individuals who are already pursuing careers in public policy. Such figures may provide potential reservoirs of knowledge about the intricacies of the policy process and advice for what to expect from the academic study of policy. Receiving guidance and insight into the realm of public policy from established practitioners or professors would be very influential for aspiring students.

8. You currently have a fellowship lined up with the Institute for Humane Studies. What are you looking forward to most about it?

Yes, I am very much looking forward to enhancing my developing knowledge of Natural Law through my current fellowship with the Institute for Humane Studies. The fellowship comes with the expectation that I write an academic paper that advances an aspect of classical liberalism and ensure its acceptance into a peer-reviewed journal no later than October 2022. I have decided to write on the often obscure, yet significantly important subject of natural law and how the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted Natural Law doctrine as it pertains to deriving God-granted rights from certain precepts in the U.S. Constitution throughout American history.

Once successfully published, I plan to present my completed work at an academic conference in the coming year, with the possibility of presenting at the annual IHS Graduate Conference. I very much look forward to the opportunity of educating a host of interested scholars on the profound importance of Natural Law and Natural Rights as it pertains to the Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution over time.

9.  Outside of your studies, what do you do for fun?

Outside of school, I love spending time connecting to God through prayer, Bible reading, and interactions at church. For fun, I enjoy spending quality time with my family, embarking on unique outdoor adventures, exploring shopping centers, lifting weights, martial arts training, playing basketball, and watching movies, among other things.

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