Who Graded Gregory Watson?

A piece on annotated versions of the US constitution by Adam Liptak in the NYT Book Review has this bit at the end:

both authors tell the story of Gregory Watson, a University of Texas undergraduate who wrote a paper on one of the amendments proposed at the time of the Bill of Rights but not adopted. It would have made Congressional pay raises effective only after the next election. Watson started a letter-writing campaign, noting that in this case there was no deadline for ratification. The upshot was the most recent amendment, the 27th, ratified in 1992. Characteristically, it is Lipsky who includes the killer detail. Watson’s professor, unconvinced that the amendment was still pending, gave him a C.

So which University of Texas professor (presumably a professor of political science) gave him the C? John Sides, who formerly graced the department at UT Austin? Skeptics might retort that Sides is much too youthful to have been around campus in the 1980s. But they haven’t seen the portrait in his attic.

2 Responses to Who Graded Gregory Watson?

  1. John Sides January 11, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Henry, I will not stand for your Dorian Gray references.

  2. John Nugent January 12, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I read that review and wondered the same thing, particularly since I was a graduate student at UT Austin in the 1990s and so might have known the professor in question. In another story about Watson I found online, he refers to the professor as “she.” There weren’t a very large number of female professors teaching American government at that time, and it could have been Janice May, who taught courses on state constitutions (and was one of my dissertation advisers). She published a 1987 article in Publius on state constitutional amendment, which even covers the question of time limits on ratifications but doesn’t mention the 27th amendment. So, she’s a possibility.

    Under Texas law, UT undergraduates must take two government courses to graduate–a U.S. and Texas government course (GOV 310) and a second course that covers a more detailed topic (GOV 312-lots of sections to choose from). Since Watson was an economics major, it’s likely he wrote the paper for a GOV 312 class (not too many papers assigned in GOV 310 in my experience TA’ing for these classes).