Institutional hybridity and policy-motivated reasoning structure public evaluations of the Supreme Court

Shana Kushner Gadarian, Logan Strother

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How does the public assess the Supreme Court and its work? Using data from three surveys conducted over a span of ten years, we show that individuals’ policy preferences drive evaluations of the Court and its willingness to reform the Court. We find strong evidence that the Court’s hybrid legal-political nature enables a unique form of policy-motivated reasoning: respondents who agree with Court outputs view the Court and its work as more “legal” in nature, while those who disagree view both as more “political.” Our findings stand in contrast to longstanding views in the literature that the public views the Court as a fundamentally different sort of institution that stands largely separate from politics. The fact that policy attitudes powerfully inform the public’s assessment of the Court has crucial implications for the ongoing debates over Supreme Court power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0294525
JournalPloS one
Volume18
Issue number11 November
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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