Ideological Proximity and Support for The Supreme Court

Ideological Proximity and Support for The Supreme Court Although the Supreme Court is a countermajoritarian institution by design, many scholars have contended that without concrete powers, the Court relies on public support for legitimacy. Accordingly, it is important to understand the relationship between people’s ideological proximity to the Court and their support for it. Existing empirical research suggests a correspondence between public opinion and the Court’s positions, but these studies do not directly compare masses and elites in a common space. To address these issues, we conducted an original survey asking respondents about their positions on ten recently decided Supreme Court cases. This allows us to estimate the positions of citizens and justices on the same ideological scale. Further, while some existing theories of perceptions of judicial legitimacy suggest similar relationships between ideological distance and various types of support for the Court, we propose a theory of heterogeneous responsiveness which posits that citizens’ ideological distance from the Court should be negatively related to their approval of and trust in the institution, but positively related to their support for its countermajoritarian function. Our empirical approach finds support for the theory. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

Ideological Proximity and Support for The Supreme Court

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Social Sciences, general; Political Science, general; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11109-013-9257-x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Although the Supreme Court is a countermajoritarian institution by design, many scholars have contended that without concrete powers, the Court relies on public support for legitimacy. Accordingly, it is important to understand the relationship between people’s ideological proximity to the Court and their support for it. Existing empirical research suggests a correspondence between public opinion and the Court’s positions, but these studies do not directly compare masses and elites in a common space. To address these issues, we conducted an original survey asking respondents about their positions on ten recently decided Supreme Court cases. This allows us to estimate the positions of citizens and justices on the same ideological scale. Further, while some existing theories of perceptions of judicial legitimacy suggest similar relationships between ideological distance and various types of support for the Court, we propose a theory of heterogeneous responsiveness which posits that citizens’ ideological distance from the Court should be negatively related to their approval of and trust in the institution, but positively related to their support for its countermajoritarian function. Our empirical approach finds support for the theory.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 13, 2013

References

  • Primary elections and candidate ideology: Out of step with the primary electorate?
    Brady, D. W.; Han, H.; Pope, J. C.

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