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The Supreme Court and the US Presidential Election of 2000: Wounds, Self-Inflicted or Otherwise?

  • JAMES L. GIBSON (a1), GREGORY A. CALDEIRA (a2) and LESTER KENYATTA SPENCE (a1)
Abstract

The conventional wisdom about the US Supreme Court and the 2000 presidential election is that the Court wounded itself by participating in such a partisan dispute. By ‘wounded’ people mean that the institution lost some of its legitimacy. Evidence from our survey, conducted in early 2001, suggests little if any diminution of the Court’s legitimacy in the aftermath of Bush v. Gore, even among African Americans. We observe a relationship between evaluations of the opinion and institutional legitimacy, but the bulk of the causality seems to flow from loyalty to evaluations of the case, not vice versa. We argue that legitimacy frames perceptions of the Court opinion. Furthermore, increased awareness of the activities of the Court tends to reinforce legitimacy by exposing people to the powerful symbols of law. In 2000, legitimacy did indeed seem to provide a reservoir of good will that allowed the Court to weather the storm created by its involvement in Florida’s presidential election.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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