Using data collected from a survey experiment, we examine whether information about the nature of the interactions between the Supreme Court and Congress influences respondents’ assessments of the Court. We find that political sophistication is key to understanding how individuals incorporate the separation of powers context into their evaluations of the Court. Political sophisticates give the Court its highest assessments when told that the Court and Congress are often in disagreement, and that Congress is most responsible for this disagreement. Assessments of the Court are significantly lower, however, when sophisticates believe that high levels of disagreement between the Court and Congress are due to the Court’s actions and when these respondents believe that the Court and Congress agree a high proportion of the time. These results suggest that for political sophisticates, the Court’s institutional standing is related to the balance it strikes between deference to Congress and judicial independence.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 19, 2012
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