Citizens, Courts, and Confirmations: Positivity Theory and the Judgments of the American People

Princeton University Press
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In recent years the American public has witnessed several hard-fought battles over nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. In these heated confirmation fights, candidates' legal and political philosophies have been subject to intense scrutiny and debate. Citizens, Courts, and Confirmations examines one such fight--over the nomination of Samuel Alito--to discover how and why people formed opinions about the nominee, and to determine how the confirmation process shaped perceptions of the Supreme Court's legitimacy.

Drawing on a nationally representative survey, James Gibson and Gregory Caldeira use the Alito confirmation fight as a window into public attitudes about the nation's highest court. They find that Americans know far more about the Supreme Court than many realize, that the Court enjoys a great deal of legitimacy among the American people, that attitudes toward the Court as an institution generally do not suffer from partisan or ideological polarization, and that public knowledge enhances the legitimacy accorded the Court. Yet the authors demonstrate that partisan and ideological infighting that treats the Court as just another political institution undermines the considerable public support the institution currently enjoys, and that politicized confirmation battles pose a grave threat to the basic legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

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About the author

James L. Gibson is the Sidney W. Souers Professor of Government at Washington University in St. Louis. His books include Overcoming Apartheid: Can Truth Reconcile a Divided Nation? Gregory A. Caldeira holds the Ann and Darrell Dreher Chair in Political Communication and Policy Thinking at Ohio State University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
May 26, 2009
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781400830602
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Courts
Law / Government / Federal
Political Science / American Government / Judicial Branch
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
Political Science / Political Process / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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James L. Gibson
James L. Gibson
Perhaps no country in history has so directly and thoroughly confronted its past in an effort to shape its future as has South Africa. Working from the belief that understanding the past will help build a more peaceful and democratic future, South Africa has made a concerted, institutionalized effort to come to grips with its history of apartheid through its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Overcoming Apartheid, James L. Gibson provides the first systematic assessment of whether South Africa's truth and reconciliation process has been successful. Has the process allowed South Africa to let go of its painful past and move on? Or has it exacerbated racial tensions by revisiting painful human rights violations and granting amnesty to their perpetrators?

Overcoming Apartheid reports on the largest and most comprehensive study of post-apartheid attitudes in South Africa to date, involving a representative sample of all major racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups. Grounding his analysis of truth in theories of collective memory, Gibson discovers that the process has been most successful in creating a common understanding of the nature of apartheid. His analysis then demonstrates how this common understanding is helping to foster reconciliation, as defined by the acceptance of basic principles of human rights and political tolerance, rejection of racial prejudice, and acceptance of the institutions of a new political order. Gibson identifies key elements in the process—such as acknowledging shared responsibility for atrocities of the past—that are essential if reconciliation is to move forward. He concludes that without the truth and reconciliation process, the prospects for a reconciled, democratic South Africa would diminish considerably. Gibson also speculates about whether the South African experience provides any lessons for other countries around the globe trying to overcome their repressive pasts.

A groundbreaking work of social science research, Overcoming Apartheid is also a primer for utilizing innovative conceptual and methodological tools in analyzing truth processes throughout the world. It is sure to be a valuable resource for political scientists, social scientists, group relations theorists, and students of transitional justice and human rights.

Jeffrey Toobin
From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration.

From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.
   This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court's docket—most crucially, a challenge to Obama's controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama's appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically—and historically—different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.
   No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.
James L. Gibson
Perhaps no country in history has so directly and thoroughly confronted its past in an effort to shape its future as has South Africa. Working from the belief that understanding the past will help build a more peaceful and democratic future, South Africa has made a concerted, institutionalized effort to come to grips with its history of apartheid through its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Overcoming Apartheid, James L. Gibson provides the first systematic assessment of whether South Africa's truth and reconciliation process has been successful. Has the process allowed South Africa to let go of its painful past and move on? Or has it exacerbated racial tensions by revisiting painful human rights violations and granting amnesty to their perpetrators?

Overcoming Apartheid reports on the largest and most comprehensive study of post-apartheid attitudes in South Africa to date, involving a representative sample of all major racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups. Grounding his analysis of truth in theories of collective memory, Gibson discovers that the process has been most successful in creating a common understanding of the nature of apartheid. His analysis then demonstrates how this common understanding is helping to foster reconciliation, as defined by the acceptance of basic principles of human rights and political tolerance, rejection of racial prejudice, and acceptance of the institutions of a new political order. Gibson identifies key elements in the process—such as acknowledging shared responsibility for atrocities of the past—that are essential if reconciliation is to move forward. He concludes that without the truth and reconciliation process, the prospects for a reconciled, democratic South Africa would diminish considerably. Gibson also speculates about whether the South African experience provides any lessons for other countries around the globe trying to overcome their repressive pasts.

A groundbreaking work of social science research, Overcoming Apartheid is also a primer for utilizing innovative conceptual and methodological tools in analyzing truth processes throughout the world. It is sure to be a valuable resource for political scientists, social scientists, group relations theorists, and students of transitional justice and human rights.

James L. Gibson
Keith E. Whittington
The study of law and politics is one of the foundation stones of the discipline of political science, and it has been one of the productive areas of cross-fertilization between the various subfields of political science and between political science and other cognate disciplines. This Handbook provides a comprehensive survey of the field of law and politics in all its diversity, ranging from such traditional subjects as theories of jurisprudence, constitutionalism, judicial politics and law-and-society to such re-emerging subjects as comparative judicial politics, international law, and democratization. The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics gathers together leading scholars in the field to assess key literatures shaping the discipline today and to help set the direction of research in the decade ahead. "This extraordinary series offers 'state of the art' assessments that instruct, engage,and provoke. Both synoptic and directive, the fine essays across these superbly edited volumes reflect the ambitions and diversity of political science. No one who is immersed in the discipline's controversies and possibilities should miss the intellectual stimulation and critical appraisal these works so powerfully provide." Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University. "The thoughtful essays in the Handbooks are far more than literature reviews. Scholars and students will find them to be an invaluable resource for many years to come." Morris P. Fiorina, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Wendt Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University. "Spanning all of the major substantive areas and approaches in modern political science, this blockbuster set is a must-have for scholars and students alike. Each volume is crafted by a distinguished set of editors who have assembled critical, comprehensive essays to survey accumulated knowledge and emerging issues in the study of politics. These volumes will help to shape the discipline for many years to come." Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.
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