Truth in politics

Political science Professor Jay Goodman teaches a course at Wheaton.

Professor of Political Science Jay S. Goodman recently weighed in on a question being investigated by the Providence Journal and fact-checking website Is Rhode Island’s legislature the strongest in the United States?

The question was raised after outgoing Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee said exactly that when sharing his advice for Governor-elect Gina Raimondo in a Journal column published on November 17.

“The only [advice] I would add is we all know … that Rhode Island constitutionally has a very strong legislature,” Chafee told the Journal. “That’s a fact, the strongest in the country … ”

To discover the truth (or lack thereof) in this statement, Journal reporter Katie Mulvaney reached out to about a dozen political science professors nationwide, including Goodman—who has been teaching political science at Wheaton College for nearly fifty years.

In his response, Goodman said that the Rhode Island legislature had given up some power over the past two decades, which had strengthened the governor’s role.

“But the overwhelming one-party rule coupled with iron discipline still makes the Speaker [of the House] the most powerful single person [in Rhode Island],” the professor added.

Goodman’s response matched up with other research the reporter conducted, including consulting a chapter in the book “Politics In the American States: A Comparative Analysis,” in which the author ranks Rhode Island as last overall for executive power.

Ruling: Chafee’s statement gets a ‘thumbs-up’ from Goodman and other political science scholars.