Like our divided nation, the Supreme Court is polarized. But does a split among Supreme Court justices—particularly when it occurs along ideological lines—hurt public perception and the Court’s ability to muster popular support for its rulings? Michael Salamone’s Perceptions of a Polarized Court offers the first comprehensive, empirical analysis of how divisiveness affects the legitimacy of the Court’s decisions.
Salamone looks specifically at the Roberts Court years—which are characterized by unprecedented ideological and partisan polarization among the justices—to evaluate the public consequences of divided Supreme Court rulings. He also analyzes both the media’s treatment of Supreme Court decisions and public opinion toward the Court’s rulings to show how public acceptance is (or is not) affected.
Salmone contends that judicial polarization has had an impact on the manner in which journalists report on the Supreme Court. However, contrary to expectation, Court dissent may help secure public support by tapping into core democratic values.