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Judging Judicial Review in the American States

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2021

Charles Crabtree*
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Michael J. Nelson
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
Michael J. Nelson, The Pennsylvania State University, 232 Pond Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Email:


Does the use of judicial review by unelected judges harm public support for their decisions? Scholars have often answered this question in the affirmative. We examine the extent to which the use of judicial review reduces the ability of judges to achieve acceptance of their decisions, arguing that decisions made by elected judges may be more palatable to the public. Our experimental evidence demonstrates that the public is less prone to accept both decisions made by appointed judges and judicial decisions that strike down laws. However, the public is no more likely to accept the use of judicial review by an appointed court than an elected court. The results have implications both for institutional design in the American states and the microfoundations of judicial independence.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s) 2019

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