Katharine Jackson, Ph.D., J.D.

DeOlazarra Fellow
Program in Political Philosophy, Policy & Law
University of Virginia


Kate is a DeOlazarra Fellow at the Program in Political Philosophy, Policy & Law at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. (with distinction) in political theory at Columbia University in 2019. 


Exploring the intersections of law, politics and economics, her research focuses on how our normative commitments - both legal and political - both intervene in, and are driven by, the economy. 

Kate’s dissertation, Corporate Autonomy: Law, Constitutional Democracy and Big Business, examines the rights and internal governance of business corporations in constitutional liberal democracies. Drawing from scholarship in political theory, economics and law, she concludes that corporations do not merit legal protections unless they first exhibit some internal democratic credentials.

Her interest in political economy also addresses the nature and legitimacy of the public administration meant to hold corporations to their liberal democratic obligations. 

This research is inspired by controversial U.S. Supreme Court decisions - decisions that at once award liberty rights to business corporations while threatening to take away the public's power to regulate them. Much of this literature relies upon analogical thinking. It treats the corporation as an individual or as a state conscript. It treats administration as the loyal fiduciary of a "popular sovereign" whose will is transcribed by Congress into law.


Her work, in contrast, takes advantage of the ontological and normative bridge that law forms between states and markets. It asks what give those laws democratic legitimacy, and then assesses the laws governing public administration and corporations accordingly.


This approach allows scholars to examine additional contemporary economic problems that likewise claim legal provenance – from industry concentration to high finance – that implicate not only distributive justice but human freedom and democratic sovereignty.

Prior to her academic studies, Kate practiced corporate derivative and securities litigation in the state and federal courts of both Delaware and New York.


The publicly funded Staten Island Ferry, with a spectacular view of Wall Street

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