The Effect Of Oral Argument On Public Perceptions Of Supreme Court Legitimacy

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mallory Block (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Ellen Key

Abstract: The existing literature on Supreme Court legitimacy suggests that factors such as ideology, political sophistication, judicial symbols, and majority size alter public perception of institutional legitimacy. The Court’s most observable component of the decision-making process, oral argument, has never been broadcasted to the public by the media. Considering the possibility of this process being made more accessible by way of cameras in the courtroom, we must consider the effect this exposure will have on public perceptions of Supreme Court legitimacy. Without institutional legitimacy, the Court cannot rely on the reservoir of goodwill to see its decisions implemented (Easton 1965). My main conclusion is that exposure to oral argument of aggressive rhetoric is damaging to public perceptions of legitimacy. I find that the effect of various rhetoric used in oral argument is moderated by two factors: gender and political sophistication. First, the public is susceptible to gender bias in the Court, as females portraying gender congruent rhetoric resulted in higher legitimacy ratings compared to females portraying gender incongruent rhetoric. Second, the politically unsophisticated experienced greater changes in legitimacy ratings and were more susceptible to gender bias compared to the politically sophisticated.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Block, M. (2018). "The Effect Of Oral Argument On Public Perceptions Of Supreme Court Legitimacy." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Supreme Court, Institutional Legitimacy, Oral Argument, Public Opinion, Gendered Language

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