Media Politicization of the United States Supreme Court

18 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2014 Last revised: 9 Jun 2015

See all articles by RonNell Andersen Jones

RonNell Andersen Jones

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: September 21, 2014

Abstract

English Abstract: Both media scholars and Justices of the United States Supreme Court have suggested that press coverage of the Court increasingly politicizes the Court as an institution, by characterizing the Court’s Justices as ideological actors and by depicting the outputs of the Court as political decisions driven by personal preference rather than apolitical outcomes driven by constitutional doctrine and legal precedent. This study builds upon earlier efforts to investigate the veracity of this assumption, using a corpus linguistics methodology to track the use of several linguistic signals that are widely regarded as politicizing. A case study investigation of the full corpus of New York Times articles from the 1950s through the 2000s suggests an increase in the use of explicitly ideological descriptors of the Justices; an increase in references to the appointing presidents of the Justices; and an increase in the disparity of coverage of 5-4 decisions and unanimous decisions.

Spanish Abstract: Tanto los académicos dedicados a la comunicación como los magistrados de la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos han sugerido que la cobertura de la prensa de la Corte politiza cada vez más la Corte como institución, ya que representa a los magistrados como actores ideológicos, y presenta las decisiones del tribunal como decisiones políticas tomadas por preferencias personales en lugar de resultados apolíticos fruto de una doctrina constitucional y un precedente legal. Este estudio se basa en intentos anteriores de investigar la veracidad de esta hipótesis, utilizando una metodología de corpus lingüístico, para rastrear el uso de diversos signos lingüísticos comúnmente considerados politizadores. Una investigación de casos prácticos del corpus completo de los artículos del New York Times desde la década de 1950 hasta la década de 2000 sugiere un aumento en el uso de descriptores de los jueces explícitamente ideológicos; un aumento en las referencias a los nombramientos de los presidentes del Tribunal; y un aumento en la disparidad de la cobertura de 4-5 decisiones y decisiones unánimes.

Keywords: Media, Press, Courts, United States Supreme Court, Coverage, Politics, Corpus Linguistics, New York Times, Medios, prensa, tribunales, Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos, políticos, Corpus lingüísticos

Suggested Citation

Andersen Jones, RonNell, Media Politicization of the United States Supreme Court (September 21, 2014). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2499231

RonNell Andersen Jones (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-587-8756 (Phone)

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