Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access




Johannes Karreth

Committee Member

Rebecca Evans

Committee Member

Eric Dienstfrey

Department Chair

Ann Karreth

Project Description

The Supreme Court has a reciprocal relationship with the public, as its influence depends on the willingness of the public to adhere to its rulings. Recent polling data reveals that public support for the Court is at an all-time low, specifically among young, college-educated adults. Some scholars argue that evaluations of judicial impropriety are driven by partisan preferences, whereas other scholars contend that the public is less informed about the political preferences of justices therefore they are more likely to use a justice’s ascriptive characteristics as informational shortcuts to inform their evaluations of judicial impropriety. To investigate this issue, I created a survey experiment using a paired-profiles design with forced choice to observe how college students assess justices differently when their ascriptive characteristics are manipulated. The results suggest that the age, gender, race, and partisanship of a justice can have strong influence on college student perceptions of judicial impropriety. Despite limitations with the population samples, this study raises interesting questions regarding perceived sources of bias and dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court.


Funding for this study was provided through a research grant from Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, and by student research funds from the Office of the Provost at Ursinus College.

This study was ruled as exempt from IRB regulations under Category 2A by the Ursinus College IRB on December 11, 2023.