The legitimacy of the US supreme court: Conventional wisdoms and recent challenges thereto

James L. Gibson, Michael J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research on the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court has blossomed of late, with scholars investigating many different hypotheses derived from legitimacy theory. As the theory has been pushed, a number of new controversies have emerged. Here, we identify four such debates: (a) whether the Court's legitimacy rests on satisfaction with its performance, (b) whether support for the Supreme Court reflects the polarization of politics in the contemporary United States, (c) whether the Court's legitimacy requires belief in the "myth of legality", and (d) whether judicial decisions can change public opinion. Our analysis of these issues generally concludes that the Supreme Court's legitimacy is reasonably secure, in part because individual rulings have little impact on support for the institution, in part because the Court has access to powerful and influential symbols of judicial authority, and in part because the current Supreme Court issues roughly equal numbers of conservative and liberal decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
Volume10
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Fingerprint

wisdom
Supreme Court
legitimacy
legality
polarization
public opinion
symbol
myth
politics
performance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

Cite this

@article{73a9ad765d9944ea8b907c3c353d6007,
title = "The legitimacy of the US supreme court: Conventional wisdoms and recent challenges thereto",
abstract = "Research on the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court has blossomed of late, with scholars investigating many different hypotheses derived from legitimacy theory. As the theory has been pushed, a number of new controversies have emerged. Here, we identify four such debates: (a) whether the Court's legitimacy rests on satisfaction with its performance, (b) whether support for the Supreme Court reflects the polarization of politics in the contemporary United States, (c) whether the Court's legitimacy requires belief in the {"}myth of legality{"}, and (d) whether judicial decisions can change public opinion. Our analysis of these issues generally concludes that the Supreme Court's legitimacy is reasonably secure, in part because individual rulings have little impact on support for the institution, in part because the Court has access to powerful and influential symbols of judicial authority, and in part because the current Supreme Court issues roughly equal numbers of conservative and liberal decisions.",
author = "Gibson, {James L.} and Nelson, {Michael J.}",
year = "2014",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-110413-030546",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "10",
pages = "201--219",
journal = "Annual Review of Law and Social Science",
issn = "1550-3585",
publisher = "Annual Reviews Inc.",

}

The legitimacy of the US supreme court : Conventional wisdoms and recent challenges thereto. / Gibson, James L.; Nelson, Michael J.

In: Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 10, 01.01.2014, p. 201-219.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - The legitimacy of the US supreme court

T2 - Conventional wisdoms and recent challenges thereto

AU - Gibson, James L.

AU - Nelson, Michael J.

PY - 2014/1/1

Y1 - 2014/1/1

N2 - Research on the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court has blossomed of late, with scholars investigating many different hypotheses derived from legitimacy theory. As the theory has been pushed, a number of new controversies have emerged. Here, we identify four such debates: (a) whether the Court's legitimacy rests on satisfaction with its performance, (b) whether support for the Supreme Court reflects the polarization of politics in the contemporary United States, (c) whether the Court's legitimacy requires belief in the "myth of legality", and (d) whether judicial decisions can change public opinion. Our analysis of these issues generally concludes that the Supreme Court's legitimacy is reasonably secure, in part because individual rulings have little impact on support for the institution, in part because the Court has access to powerful and influential symbols of judicial authority, and in part because the current Supreme Court issues roughly equal numbers of conservative and liberal decisions.

AB - Research on the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court has blossomed of late, with scholars investigating many different hypotheses derived from legitimacy theory. As the theory has been pushed, a number of new controversies have emerged. Here, we identify four such debates: (a) whether the Court's legitimacy rests on satisfaction with its performance, (b) whether support for the Supreme Court reflects the polarization of politics in the contemporary United States, (c) whether the Court's legitimacy requires belief in the "myth of legality", and (d) whether judicial decisions can change public opinion. Our analysis of these issues generally concludes that the Supreme Court's legitimacy is reasonably secure, in part because individual rulings have little impact on support for the institution, in part because the Court has access to powerful and influential symbols of judicial authority, and in part because the current Supreme Court issues roughly equal numbers of conservative and liberal decisions.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84908661935&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84908661935&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-110413-030546

DO - 10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-110413-030546

M3 - Review article

AN - SCOPUS:84908661935

VL - 10

SP - 201

EP - 219

JO - Annual Review of Law and Social Science

JF - Annual Review of Law and Social Science

SN - 1550-3585

ER -