The dynamics of public support for the supreme court

Jeffery J. Mondak, Shannon Ishiyama Smithey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past empirical studies of factors affecting public support for the Supreme Court suggest: (1) the Supreme Court's decisions are more often congruent than incongruent with public opinion; (2) public response to decisions influences subsequent levels of institutional support; (3) negative reactions more strongly affect institutional support than do positive reactions; and (4) support is subject to value-based regeneration due to a link between the Court and basic democratic values. Although a wealth of empirical studies underlies these propositions, such findings appear inconsistent with the observed character of aggregate public support for the Court - namely, that levels of support tend to be high and that support is quite stable over time. To explore this tension, we construct a dynamic model of public support for the Supreme Court, guided by our four empirically derived propositions. Model analysis and estimation demonstrates that an active and occasionally controversial Supreme Court can maintain aggregate public support that is both high and stable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1142
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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