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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2018

Mintao Nie*
Department of Political Science, Purdue University
Eric N. Waltenburg
Department of Political Science, Purdue University
*Corresponding author: Mintao Nie, Department of Political Science, Purdue University, 100 N. University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail:


Previous research suggests that the mainstream media’s portrayals of the U.S. Supreme Court as an objective and impartial institution contribute to its diffuse support among the public. This study explores what happens if people are not exposed to these messages, relying instead on information sources that portray the Court and its justices as being politically oriented and motivated. We use the 2003 Blacks and the U.S. Supreme Court Survey data and coarsened exact matching to examine the effect of exposure to the Black media, whose reports are less likely to include legitimizing symbols of the Court. We find that exposure to the Black media significantly lowers people’s diffuse support for the Court among both Blacks and Whites. This result indicates that differences between Blacks and Whites with respect to their diffuse support for the Court are likely to be a function of the informational environment to which they are exposed rather than race per se.

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Copyright © Hutchins Center for African and African American Research 2018 

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