Gibson to be published in APSR for "Do the Effects of Unpopular Supreme Court Rulings Linger?"

Professor James Gibson's "Do the Effects of Unpopular Supreme Court Rulings Linger? The Dobbs Decision Rescinding Abortion Rights", forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, is now available to view on SSRN: click here.


New evidence suggests that the world recently changed for the U.S. Supreme Court owing to its decision to abrogate the abortion rights first announced in Roe v. Wade. In contrast to the conventional wisdom that Court support is little undermined by unpopular rulings, the Dobbs decision generated a substantial knock on the Court’s legitimacy. Two crucial frailties limit these findings, however. First, no one has determined whether the lost legitimacy has persisted, since earlier research relied upon a one-shot survey conducted shortly after the decision. Second, no analysis has addressed the “values-based regeneration” hypothesis—that support re-emerges not long after a legitimacy hit is inflicted. Based on a nationally representative 2023 survey, my analysis finds that the lost legitimacy lingers, but institutional support may be being rebuilt owing to its close connection with democratic values. Overall, I conclude that understanding persistence is more complicated than many may have assumed.