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http://ssrn.com/abstract=406620
 
 

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Mediated Popular Constitutionalism


Barry Friedman


New York University School of Law


Michigan Law Review, Vol. 101

Abstract:     
At present many theorists advocate some version of popular constitutionalism. Although commentators differ, and not all theories are well-defined, the central idea is that constitutional meaning should reflect popular understandings. This paper explores the relationship between popular opinion and judicial review, with special attention to the social science literature that bears upon the topic. In light of that literature, this paper argues that we have a system of popular constitutionalism that is mediated through politics and media coverage of the courts.

The paper begins with a sketch of a normative argument in which popular opinion is relevant to the exercise of judicial review. It then turns to social science to determine if this is the case. Social science studies suggest that public opinion constrains judicial behavior, and that judicial outcomes typically fall within a range of popular acceptance. There also is a prominent social science theory of diffuse support which holds that even when the public does not approve of judicial decisions, they will - within a range of tolerance - support the idea of judicial review. The diffuse support hypothesis in particular is important to assessing the range of independence enjoyed by the judiciary. This paper explores the ramifications for normative theories of judicial review of social science understandings regarding the relationship between popular opinion and judicial review. The paper concludes by explaining how public opinion can be manipulated, potentially undermining the workings of this system of mediated popular constitutionalism.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

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Date posted: May 12, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Barry, Mediated Popular Constitutionalism. Michigan Law Review, Vol. 101. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=406620 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.406620

Contact Information

Barry Friedman (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
Room 317
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-998-6293 (Phone)
212-995-4030 (Fax)
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