Backlash and Legitimation: Macro Political Responses to the Supreme Court

Posted: 28 Apr 2012 Last revised: 2 Oct 2017

See all articles by Joseph Daniel Ura

Joseph Daniel Ura

Texas A&M University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 24, 2012

Abstract

Despite evidence of thermostatic public responsiveness to policies created by the elected branches of American government, scholars of public opinion have not generally applied this same model of public opinion to represent the relationship between the Supreme Court and public opinion. Instead, a discreet theory addressing the public’s responses to the Court’s decisions has developed. This theory of legitimation predicts that the Court’s association with powerful symbols of institutional legitimacy will pull Americans’ attitudes toward positions adopted by the Court. This paper develops these theories’ competing predictions about the relationship between Supreme Court decisions and public mood. I assess these rival expectations by modeling the dynamic relationship between mood and cumulative judicial liberalism. The model estimates indicate a complex interaction between the Court and the mass public characterized by short-term backlash against Supreme Court decisions in public mood followed by long-run movement toward the ideological positions taken by the Court.

Keywords: macropolitics, public opinion, legitimation, Supreme Court, thermostatic model

Suggested Citation

Ura, Joseph Daniel, Backlash and Legitimation: Macro Political Responses to the Supreme Court (April 24, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2047009 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2047009

Joseph Daniel Ura (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - Department of Political Science ( email )

4348 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4348
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.tamu.edu/~jura

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