Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Restricted Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Maron Sorenson


This paper investigates how presidential candidates speak about the Supreme Court on the campaign trail, and how the ideological tenor of their rhetoric influences outcomes on the Court. Rhetoric is a powerful and well-researched tool of the presidency and has often been called “the power to persuade.” Much of judicial politics scholarship works to describe judicial decision making, investigating what constrains the actions and decisions of the Supreme Court. Though some scholarship has examined how presidential rhetoric affects the Supreme Court, little has been conducted in the area of presidential campaigns. This paper argues that presidential campaign rhetoric influences the Supreme Court by demonstrating that in the area of civil liberties the ideology of the winning presidential candidates' campaign rhetoric concerning the Supreme Court has a statistically significant effect on the percent of liberal rulings the Court issues one year after an election.


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