#2: SCOTUS Decision Making

Blog Post #2.

The various models of Supreme Court decision making rely on fundamentally different assumptions about the nature of the Supreme Court’s power. Although the Justices almost always use the language of legal methods, many social science experts argue that these methods do not and cannot lead to a single inevitable outcome. As such, we have developed a number of different ways to characterize the way that the Supreme Court justices actually make their decisions. Of course, many American citizens would be unwilling to accept the Supreme Court’s rulings if they believed that Supreme Court Justices were just like any other politician. But the Supreme Court is lucky in that it has the ability to use the uniqueness of its role to promote an image of authority. For an introduction to some of the symbols that help to increase the Court’s perceived legitimacy, complete the activity called “The Look of Authority” at PBS.org.

Paper Topic 2: In the wake of legal realism, does the Supreme Court still have the institutional legitimacy to to make controversial decisions? Does the increased politicization of the appointment process contribute to this? How?

Suggested Reading: Gibson, James L. and Cregory A. Caldeira. 2011. “Has Legal Realism Damaged the Legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court?” Law & Society Review, 45(1):195-219.