How does hyperpoliticized rhetoric affect the US Supreme court’s legitimacy?

Michael J. Nelson, James L. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many believe that President Trump’s criticisms of the judiciary pose real and immediate threats to judicial legitimacy. However, framing theory suggests that source credibility is a prerequisite for such frames to be effective. Relying on an experiment embedded in a multiwave, nationally representative sample of Americans, we examine whether public attacks on the judiciary—by either Trump or distinguished law professors—affect the US Supreme Court’s legitimacy. We demonstrate that criticisms of the Court from either source are only deleterious among respondents who believe the source is credible; source credibility also shapes agreement with the criticism. Because President Trump is viewed with distrust by a majority of Americans, his comments pose only a limited threat to the Court’s legitimacy. However, our data also suggest that a more credible source (inside or outside government), using similar attacks, could do considerable damage to the legitimacy of the American government’s most fragile branch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1512-1516
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume81
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

Fingerprint

Supreme Court
rhetoric
legitimacy
criticism
credibility
president
threat
judiciary
damages
Law
experiment

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

@article{e7161671693f413c879b534a8ed8c2a0,
title = "How does hyperpoliticized rhetoric affect the US Supreme court’s legitimacy?",
abstract = "Many believe that President Trump’s criticisms of the judiciary pose real and immediate threats to judicial legitimacy. However, framing theory suggests that source credibility is a prerequisite for such frames to be effective. Relying on an experiment embedded in a multiwave, nationally representative sample of Americans, we examine whether public attacks on the judiciary—by either Trump or distinguished law professors—affect the US Supreme Court’s legitimacy. We demonstrate that criticisms of the Court from either source are only deleterious among respondents who believe the source is credible; source credibility also shapes agreement with the criticism. Because President Trump is viewed with distrust by a majority of Americans, his comments pose only a limited threat to the Court’s legitimacy. However, our data also suggest that a more credible source (inside or outside government), using similar attacks, could do considerable damage to the legitimacy of the American government’s most fragile branch.",
author = "Nelson, {Michael J.} and Gibson, {James L.}",
year = "2019",
month = "10",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1086/704701",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "81",
pages = "1512--1516",
journal = "Journal of Politics",
issn = "0022-3816",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",
number = "4",

}

How does hyperpoliticized rhetoric affect the US Supreme court’s legitimacy? / Nelson, Michael J.; Gibson, James L.

In: Journal of Politics, Vol. 81, No. 4, 01.10.2019, p. 1512-1516.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - How does hyperpoliticized rhetoric affect the US Supreme court’s legitimacy?

AU - Nelson, Michael J.

AU - Gibson, James L.

PY - 2019/10/1

Y1 - 2019/10/1

N2 - Many believe that President Trump’s criticisms of the judiciary pose real and immediate threats to judicial legitimacy. However, framing theory suggests that source credibility is a prerequisite for such frames to be effective. Relying on an experiment embedded in a multiwave, nationally representative sample of Americans, we examine whether public attacks on the judiciary—by either Trump or distinguished law professors—affect the US Supreme Court’s legitimacy. We demonstrate that criticisms of the Court from either source are only deleterious among respondents who believe the source is credible; source credibility also shapes agreement with the criticism. Because President Trump is viewed with distrust by a majority of Americans, his comments pose only a limited threat to the Court’s legitimacy. However, our data also suggest that a more credible source (inside or outside government), using similar attacks, could do considerable damage to the legitimacy of the American government’s most fragile branch.

AB - Many believe that President Trump’s criticisms of the judiciary pose real and immediate threats to judicial legitimacy. However, framing theory suggests that source credibility is a prerequisite for such frames to be effective. Relying on an experiment embedded in a multiwave, nationally representative sample of Americans, we examine whether public attacks on the judiciary—by either Trump or distinguished law professors—affect the US Supreme Court’s legitimacy. We demonstrate that criticisms of the Court from either source are only deleterious among respondents who believe the source is credible; source credibility also shapes agreement with the criticism. Because President Trump is viewed with distrust by a majority of Americans, his comments pose only a limited threat to the Court’s legitimacy. However, our data also suggest that a more credible source (inside or outside government), using similar attacks, could do considerable damage to the legitimacy of the American government’s most fragile branch.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85071953108&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85071953108&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1086/704701

DO - 10.1086/704701

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85071953108

VL - 81

SP - 1512

EP - 1516

JO - Journal of Politics

JF - Journal of Politics

SN - 0022-3816

IS - 4

ER -