This dissertation argues that existing explanations of judicial power emphasizing limits on the ability of the judiciary to change society miss an important mechanism of judicial influence over the language of political discourse. Working from research in empirical judicial politics, political psychology, and political theory, this dissertation argues that by promoting constitutional language in select issue domains, Supreme Court majorities can influence public discourse by promoting or discouraging the use of constitutional language in mainstream media coverage of political controversies. I report the results of two case studies using newspaper editorials and articles as well as other communications media. I find strong evidence for judicial influence over political language in mainstream media coverage of both the abortion and gun regulation debates.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2011. Major: Political science. Advisor: Timothy R. Johnson. 1 computer file PDF); vii, 162 pages.
Vecera, Vincent Benjamin.
The Supreme Court and the politics of language: an empirical investigation..
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