Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


This research examines the extent to which the Supreme Court has the power to influence public opinion. There is a good deal of consensus in the literature regarding the influence of public opinion on the Supreme Court. However, a relatively small pool of contradictory research attempting to turn the casual arrow from the Court to the public underscores the fact that the question of whether or not a dynamic, back-and-forth relationship exists is still open for debate. Using a portion of the work done by Erikson, MacKuen and Stimson in The Macro Polity (2002) as a model, and relying heavily on James Stimson's public mood data and salient Supreme Court decisions from 1969-2008, this study asserts that the Supreme Court has the power to influence the public mood on salient issues, especially with regard to highly unanimous decisions. Consequently, this study suggests a dialogue exists between two groups that were never intended to speak.