Opportunity and Overrides: The Effect of Institutional Public Support on Congressional Overrides of Supreme Court Decisions

Michael J. Nelson, Alicia Uribe-McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Existing theories of legislative-judicial relations emphasize the role of public support for the judiciary on the likelihood of legislative compliance. Although Congress can strengthen or weaken the Supreme Court’s decisions after initial compliance, the role of public support for the judiciary on subsequent legislative action is unclear. We develop a theory of legislative-judicial interactions, which suggests that Congress considers the court’s current level of public support when determining whether to override a Supreme Court decision. We test our theory using data on congressional overrides of US Supreme Court decisions, finding that high levels of public support for the court shield the court from hostile congressional action. The results underscore the vital role played by the public in interbranch relations, suggesting that public support plays a role in the legacy of a judicial decision beyond ensuring initial compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-643
Number of pages12
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Volume70
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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