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ERIC Number: ED154401
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Aug
Pages: 43
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
An Investigation of the Relationship between Public Opinion and Supreme Court Decisions.
Gaziano, Cecilie
Public opinion polls about freedom of speech issues during a 30-year period (1937-70) were compared with Supreme Court decisions for the same period to determine the effects of public sentiment on judicial decision making. Two-thirds of the decisions conformed to a constitutionality model (that the Court should always uphold the First Amendment regardless of majority public opinion). However, a public opinion model (that the Court should always heed public opinion in its decision making) explained the outcomes one-third of the time when one of two conditions obtained: either when at least 35% to 40% of the population supported free speech for political extremists, or when a low level of public opinion was in favor of free speech. Dominance of the public opinion model was greatly apparent during two periods of public hostility against Communists and during one period of strong public feeling against antiwar demonstrators. Further support of the public opinion model comes from a graph charting the flow of public opinion and Supreme Court decisions for a 22-year period; the shapes of both variables on the graph are similar, indicating that the direction of public opinion and the direction of Supreme Court decisions are related. (Author/RL)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (60th, Madison, Wisconsin, August 21-24, 1977)