Public Opinion About the Courts

The study of public opinion about the courts is closely tied to concerns that date back to the Constitutional Convention. Then, and subsequently, it has been noted that while the executive branch has the power of the sword and the legislative branch the power of the purse, for compliance with its orders, the judiciary uniquely must rely on the public's belief in its legitimacy.

Public opinion today about the U.S. Supreme Court is different from public opinion about the other, “lower” courts; the U.S. Supreme Court enjoys consistently higher levels of confidence, support, and loyalty. This is often explained by reference to political and legal socialization, which inculcates loyalty to the Supreme Court. Other courts do not appear to benefit from such socialization. For the trial ...

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