The Legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court in a Polarized Polity

45 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2006  

James L. Gibson

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 3, 2006

Abstract

Conventional political science wisdom holds that contemporary American politics is characterized by deep and profound partisan and ideological divisions. Unanswered is the question of whether those divisions have spilled over into threats to the legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court. Since the Court is often intimately involved in making policy in many policy areas that divide Americans, including the contested 2000 presidential election, it is reasonable to hypothesize that loyalty toward the institution depends upon policy and/or ideological agreement and partisanship. Using data stretching from 1987 through 2005, the analysis reveals that Court support has not declined. Nor is it connected to partisan and ideological identifications. Instead, support is embedded within a larger set of relatively stable democratic values. Institutional legitimacy may not be obdurate, but it does not seem to be caught up in the divisiveness that characterizes so much of American politics - at least not at present.

Keywords: Institutional Legitimacy, Positivity Bias, Diffuse Support

Suggested Citation

Gibson, James L., The Legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court in a Polarized Polity (December 3, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=909162 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.909162

James L. Gibson (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )

One Brookings Drive
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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