The following is excerpted from a recent Question and Answer session prior to today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Accountable Care Act with Justin Wedeking, assistant professor, Department of Political Science, University of Kentucky:
How do court decisions play into politics in issues like this?
“While many people may not like the Court to interject themselves into these political issues, in the past Court decisions have played a regular part in politics. The Court has over the years decided some of our nation’s most important and pressing social issues, such as abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, school desegregation, gun rights, school prayer, and it played a major role in the 2000 Presidential election.
“The reason why the Court decides these issues is simple: someone asks them to. In effect, while many people prefer the “elected” branches of government to make these important decisions, when the Court reviews a law passed by the other branches it is essentially exercising it’s check on those two branches.
“Moreover, Americans generally have a positive attitude of the Court meaning the Court enjoys what scholars call a “positivity bias” that enables the Court’s legitimacy to remain largely unchanged even in the face of making an unpopular decision. For example, after the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000, the public’s perception of the Court as a legitimate institution hardly changed. In this sense, the Court draws upon a deep resovoir of “good will” that it uses to maintain a high degree of legitimacy amongst the public.”