Dissent, Legitimacy, and Public Support for Court Decisions: Evidence from a Survey‐Based Experiment
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Scholars often argue that whereas unanimous rulings should boost public support for court decisions, dissents should fuel public opposition. Previous studies on public responses to U.S. Supreme Court decisions suggest that unanimity does in fact bolster support. However, a recent study has also found that dissents may increase support among opponents of a court decision by suggesting evidence of procedural justice. By examining how individuals react to dissents from the Supreme Court of Norway, this article is the first study outside the U.S. context of the public's reaction to unanimity and dissent. Breaking with the common notion of the negative effects of dissent on public support, the article shows that when the Supreme Court handles cases of higher political salience, the formulation of dissenting opinions can be a meaningful way of securing greater support for its policy outputs by suggesting evidence of procedural justice. Contrary to recent studies, however, this positive influence of dissent is irrespective of individuals' ex ante policy views.
CitationBentsen HL. Dissent, Legitimacy, and Public Support for Court Decisions: Evidence from a Survey‐Based Experiment. Law & society review. 2019;53(2):588-610
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