Law & Social Inquiry
Department or Program
Possessing neither purse nor sword, the unelected US Supreme Court relies on sustained public confidence in its institutional credibility to give force to its decisions. Previous research shows that Supreme Court justices are increasingly making public appearances to engage in a course of institutional maintenance to preserve its legitimacy. Amid a potential legitimacy crisis, justices seek to shore up the Court’s public support in these public appearances by emphasizing the apolitical nature of the Court and its decision making. The question for a growing body of literature is whether these attempts at institutional maintenance do, in fact, lead to higher support for the Court. Using an original survey experiment where we manipulate the identity of the justice giving legitimizing rhetoric, we find that respondents’ ideological preferences and female respondents’ level of gender identity do impact the effectiveness of such rhetoric. These results build on previous work by demonstrating the importance of justice identity in conditioning how different ideologues respond to the Court’s elite signals.
Williams, R., & Christiani, L. (2023). Are You Talking to Me? How Ideological and Gender Characteristics Moderate the Effect of Legitimizing Rhetoric on SCOTUS Legitimacy. Law & Social Inquiry, 1-25. doi:10.1017/lsi.2023.69
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Bar Foundation
Required Publisher's Statement
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.