SAGE Journal Articles
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Abstract: We assess the importance of the public’s policy agreement with the Supreme Court on public approval of the court. Using survey data on a range of recent court cases, we measure respondents’ perceived ideological closeness to the court. Then, we test various theories of court approval (doctrinal, functional, attitudinal). People who believe the court has decided recent cases as they themselves would have done, or that judges share their partisanship, report higher court approval than those who perceive the court as ideologically distant from them. We compare these findings with similar effects of policy agreement on Congressional and Presidential approval.
Abstract: The U.S. Supreme Court is traditionally thought to hold little influence over social or political change; however, recent evidence suggests the Court may wield significant power, especially with regard to criminal justice. Most studies evaluate judicial power by examining the effects of individual rulings on the implementation of specific policies, but this approach may overlook the broader impact of courts on society. Instead, I adopt an aggregate approach to test U.S. Supreme Court power. I find that aggregate conservative decision making by the Court is positively associated with long-term shifts in new admissions to U.S. federal prisons. These results suggest the Court possesses significant power to influence important social outcomes, at least in the context of the criminal justice system.