Essay on Public Opinion And Supreme Court Decision

Essay on Public Opinion And Supreme Court Decision

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In illustrating that there is a direct link between public opinion and Supreme Court decision an explanation as to why this phenomenon occurs can be found. There are two main schools of thought as to why this occurs. The first was explained by Dahl (1957) which claims that public opinion affects the Court indirectly through political appointments. As previously stated, the Court responds to national economic or political alliances, which dominate the national narrative. Justices respond to this national narrative and the national narrative responds to public opinion. Dahl states that justices usually vote the political narrative of the president who appointed them and therefore are indirectly voting with the public. After all, the public votes directly for congress and indirectly votes for the president though the Electoral College; the president then appoints judge and congress confirms allowing for several avenues for which the public has been involved in the Court selection process. The president and the senate represents the national public opinion since they are publicly elected; therefore the court is indirectly responding to national public opinion. This is a theory that I agree with and that the literature written on this topic almost conclusively agrees with (Dahl 1957 and Norpoth and Segal 1994). Its well illustrated that justices’ vote with the presidential ideology of who appointed them otherwise the president would not have appointed them for it is in the president’s best interest to appoint justices who vote with them.
The second school of thought, argues that the Justices, respond directly to public opinion for they are themselves part of the public; however this theory is much more contested. Giles, Blackstone, a...


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...for it highlights societal changes and the courts response to them. If the Court matches public opinion around the same time of the majority societal shift then the Court is most likely responding to the same line on thinking the majority of the public is responding to. I believe this theory is the most probable as to why the Court shifts their opinion. I think its is an important theory to research and examine for the implications this fact could have on society. Hamilton (1788) wanted the Court to be a buffer and separate from the “ills” or trends of society. If the court was solely using the constitution and not following the public ideology issues, like gay marriage would already be decided for the constitution does not address this issue leaving up to the states. The implications of that may be discerning to many people therefore, this idea should be examined.

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