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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: August 2020

2 - Theories of Public Support for Court-Curbing


Chapter 2 develops a policy-based theory of public support for Court-curbing, which represents an alternative to process-based perspectives popular in the literature. The chapter distinguishes “broadly targeted Court-curbing,” or support for attacks on the institution’s powers and independence, from “narrowly targeted Court-curbing,” or support for attacks on the Court’s specific rulings. While disagreement with the general ideological direction of the Supreme Court strongly impacts support for broadly targeted Court-curbing, disagreement with specific rulings has a larger effect on narrowly targeted curbing. The theory also explains how and why partisan polarization reduces citizens’ willingness to defend the Court and discusses competing perspectives for how citizens’ level of political engagement moderates the effect of policy disagreement.

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