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1 - The Guardians of Judicial Independence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 August 2020

Brandon L. Bartels
Affiliation:
George Washington University, Washington DC
Christopher D. Johnston
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

Chapter 1 sets the scholarly and popular context for explaining how citizens evaluate the United States Supreme Court. It conceptualizes the core outcome of interest throughout the book: public support for Court-curbing, or alterations to the Supreme Court’s powers, structures, and institutional arrangements. We compare this concept to judicial independence and judicial power, and we distinguish it from institutional legitimacy. Chapter 1 also makes important connections to the institutions literature, explaining how a politicized foundation to Court-curbing represents a constraint on judicial independence. We characterize core debates in the scholarly literature centering on “policy (or outcome) versus process.” Policy-based perspectives posit that citizen agreement or disagreement with the Court’s rulings or policy direction will influence support for Court-curbing. Process-based perspectives suggest that non-policy factors such as democratic values, perceptions that the Court is fair and impartial (as opposed to politicized), and knowledge and awareness (via a “positivity bias”) all serve to enhance institutional support for the Court.

Type
Chapter
Information
Curbing the Court
Why the Public Constrains Judicial Independence
, pp. 1 - 26
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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