Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


This study attempts to explain why the Supreme Court responds to public mood by analyzing individual justice liberalism and comparing it to public liberalism between the years of1970 and 2001. Three theories suggesting why the Court may respond to public opinion are discussed, including the replacement, political adjustment, and the attitude change hypotheses. The method of using Court reversals to determine the ideology of the Court is presented and implemented. Along with ideology and the public mood, the overall Court mood is used as an independent variable to explain the driving force behind changes in individual justices' voting behavior. The study concludes that the Court mood is the strongest and most significant factor in changes in judicial voting behavior, while public opinion and ideology explain little to none of the variance.