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Do Policy Messengers Matter? Majority Opinion Writers as Policy Cues in Public 'Buy In' of Supreme Court Decisions

35 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2013 Last revised: 23 Dec 2013

Scott S. Boddery

Gettysburg College

Jeff Yates

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 21, 2013

Abstract

To what degree does the identity of the majority opinion writer affect a citizen’s level of agreement with a U.S. Supreme Court decision? Using a survey experiment, we manipulate the majority opinion authors of two Supreme Court cases between two randomly populated groups. By investigating ideological incongruence between a case’s policy output and the majority opinion author we are able to empirically test the extent to which individuals are willing to agree with a Court opinion that is authored by an ideologically similar justice even though the decision cuts against their self-identified ideological policy preferences. Our study provides insight on the extent to which policy “buy in” by citizens is affected by policy cues represented by the policy messenger of a political institution. We find that, although individuals generally give deference to the Supreme Court’s decisions, a messenger effect indeed augments the specific level of support a given case receives.

Keywords: Supreme Court, judicial politics, public opinion, specific support

Suggested Citation

Boddery, Scott S. and Yates, Jeff, Do Policy Messengers Matter? Majority Opinion Writers as Policy Cues in Public 'Buy In' of Supreme Court Decisions (December 21, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2370857 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2370857

Scott S. Boddery (Contact Author)

Gettysburg College ( email )

300 North Washington Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325
United States

Jeff L. Yates

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

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