Naming Names: The Impact of Supreme Court Opinion Attribution on Citizen Assessment of Policy Outcomes
52 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2016
Date Written: July 9, 2016
The manner in which political institutions convey their policy outcomes can have important implications for how the public views institutions’ policy decisions. This paper explores whether the way in which the U.S. Supreme Court communicates its policy decrees affects how favorably members of the public assess its decisions. Specifically, we investigate whether attributing a decision to the nation’s High Court or to an individual justice influences the public’s agreement with the Court’s rulings. Using an experimental design, we find that when a Supreme Court outcome is ascribed to the institution as a whole, rather than to a particular justice, people are more apt to agree with the policy decision. We also find that identifying the gender of the opinion author affects public agreement under certain conditions. Our findings have important implications for how public support for institutional policy-making operates, as well as the dynamics of how the Supreme Court manages to accumulate and maintain public goodwill.
Keywords: U.S. Supreme Court, American Politics, Political Institutions, Experimental Analysis, Policy Agreement, Gender and Politics, Per Curiam Court Opinions
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