The U. S. Supreme Court and Value Legitimacy: An Experimental Approach With Older Americans

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This study was designed to test the designed to test the legitimacy-conferring hypotheses as it relates to the United States Supreme Court. Conventional wisdom has long asscrted that the Court, in its role as interpreter of the Constitution, is a major force influencing the values and attitudes of Americans. However, little empirical research has been conducted on the issue, and that which has been conducted has been ambiguous. Using a split-ballot experimental technique, we found support for the legitimacy-conferring hypothesis among a sample of older Americans from twenty-two different states across the U. S. We found five of nine proposals to be more strongly endorsed when their attributed source was the Supreme Court rather than the U. S. Congress or when the source was unattributed. A factor analysis of the items was used to discover underlying value-orientations described by the nine items. An analysis to three derived factors added to our confidence in the legitimacy-conferring hypothesis.