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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In the most widely accepted conception of judges’ relationships with their environments in the United States, influence on judges from the world outside their courts is a result of their strategic efforts to shape the content of legal policy. This chapter presents an alternative conception, one in which judges are influenced by the outside world largely because they care about what other people think of them. This alternative conception of judicial audiences helps to explain why judges sometimes take the general public and the other branches of government into account when they make decisions. It also calls attention to the role of elite groups in shaping the choices of judges, most notably Supreme Court justices. In turn, growing ideological polarization among elites may have changed patterns of elite influence on judges and thus judges’ behavior as decision makers.

Keywords: judicial behavior, Supreme Court, audiences, elites, general public, polarization

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