Supreme Court has a legitimacy crisis, but not for the reason you think

Published: Friday, June 15 2012 9:58 a.m. MDT

The Supreme Court Building is seen, Thursday, March 5, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

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Jeffrey Rosen, the legal affairs editor of The New Republic, looks into why the U.S. Supreme Court may have a legitimacy crisis in the view of the American public:

According to (a new study by Nathaniel Persily of Columbia Law School and Stephen Ansolabehere of Harvard), Americans already judge the Court according to political criteria: They generally support the Court when they think they would have ruled the same way as the justices in particular cases, or when they perceive the Court overall to be ruling in ways that correlate with their partisan views. If this finding is correct, the most straightforward way for the Court to maintain its high approval ratings is to hand down decisions that majorities of the public agree with. And, like its predecessors, the Roberts Court has, in fact, managed to mirror the views of national majorities more often than not. In a 2009 survey, Persily and Ansolabehere found that the public strongly supported many of the Supreme Courts recent high-profile decisions, including conservative rulings recognizing gun rights and upholding bans on partial birth abortions, as well as liberal rulings upholding the regulation of global warming and striking down a Texas law banning sex between gay men.

Read more about Rosen's take on public perception of the Supreme Court on The New Republic.

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