Dissertation

The fundamental question motivating my dissertation is: how does the Supreme Court maintain its institutional legitimacy in the separation-of-powers?

Departing from the existing literature’s focus on the Court’s propensity to exercise constitutional invalidation, my dissertation examines how external constraints on judicial legitimacy affects the way in which the Court makes its decisions. Specifically, I argue that justices conform to the internal norms governing their behaviors so as to shroud their decisions with greater moral authority. The norms I investigate include the norm of consensus, norm of collegiality, and the norm of stare decisis.

In my first essay, institutional maintenance and the norm of consensus, I find that the Court as a whole and individual justices abide by the norm of consensus when external constraints on judicial legitimacy are high.

In my second essay, I look at the norm of stare decisis. I find that when external constraints on judicial legitimacy increase, justices are more likely to conform to the norm by citing precedents, especially those with higher legal authority.

In my third essay, I approach the norm of collegiality in oral arguments at the Supreme Court. Similar to the previous two essays, I find that justices promote judicial legitimacy by showcasing collegiality during the Court’s only public decision-making stage. Their collegiality is reflected in their interruption and language use.