This study explores how citizens think about the appropriate exercise of authority across the branches of government. Three similarly designed experiments conducted on national samples reveal that what individuals are told about compliance with decision‐making rules matters across institutions, but so does the political context in which officials are acting. Participants’ policy preferences about the issues that are the subject of government action are particularly important in such assessments. Evidence suggests that feelings about President Trump and participants’ policy views are more important in assessments of the appropriateness of unilateral action than they were during the Obama administration; findings also suggest that what participants are told about President Trump's compliance with rules is less important. This could reflect an erosion in the importance of constitutional norms in citizens’ assessments of executive authority, but other explanations specific to the inquiry are also discussed.
American Journal of Political Science – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 2021