Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-23-2022


Svob, William. The Public’s Preferences in Supreme Court Rationale. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2022


Copyright William Svob 2022.


Public approval of the Supreme Court has been decreasing in recent years. Given the literature’s consensus that Supreme Court rulings coincide with popular opinion more often than not, the decrease in popularity cannot be explained away by assuming the justices have made a series of widely despised rulings. This raises questions about what exactly the public wants the Supreme Court to do. There is an abundance of research covering the many factors that influence a justice to rule in a particular manner, but there is little written about what the average American believes should influence the Court. This study is intended to fill this gap by testing the connections between the rationales used by the Supreme Court and the changes in the Court’s popularity over the years. By determining the rationales used in the Court’s most well-known cases and comparing it to changes in Court popularity, the impact of a rationale on the public’s feelings towards the Court can be better understood. The dependent variable is the Court’s popularity, and the independent variables are the year of the case, the public’s mood, the Court’s political partisanship, and the rationales used. After creating a chart with these variables, I ran a regression to determine which factors were statistically significant in changing Court popularity. The results showed that only the year the case was decided and the public mood that year had a significant impact on Court popularity.