Investigating the Effects of Judicial Legitimacy on Micro-Level Opinion
36 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
A number of studies suggest that the U.S. Supreme Court – wielding a high level of popular legitimacy – can persuade Americans who are made aware of its legal decisions to support their policy outcomes. In spite of this evidence, the endorsement effect – the ability of judicial institutions to draw on their popular standing to persuade – remains under-examined. The theory suggests a micro-level mechanism underpinning responses to rulings; namely, that individuals who place the most trust in the Court should evince the largest increases in support for the policies it upholds. But this may not be the case. This paper offers one of the first examinations of institutional trust and policy-specific opinion at the individual level. It uses panel data to trace opinion changes in response to high profile rulings. It also employs experimental data to demonstrate how contextual forces lessen the influence that judicial trust has on policy-specific attitudes.
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