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Diversity and Judicial Legitimacy in State Courts

Redman, Shane (2021) Diversity and Judicial Legitimacy in State Courts. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines the relationship between representation and institutional legitimacy. More specifically, it examines the relationship between descriptive and substantive representation and judicial legitimacy. In doing so, it departs from much of the extant literature in two important ways. First, unlike nearly all previous studies examining this relationship, this project explicitly measures and incorporates individuals’ varying expectations of representation into the analysis. Second, this project focuses on a state trial court context. While the overwhelming majority of studies in this area focus on the most highly visible court, the Supreme Court of the United States, this project examines judicial legitimacy in the courts that handle more than 90% of all judicial business in the United States. By conducting a survey with two embedded experiments on a nationally representative sample, this project provides support for several claims. First, who serves in the judiciary (i.e., what the judiciary looks like, or descriptive representation) affects the legitimacy ascribed to the courts. Second, specific outputs of the judiciary (i.e., specific case decisions, or substantive representation) also affects judicial legitimacy. Third, individuals hold different expectations of both the composition of the judiciary and the decision-making process of judges. Finally, these expectations affect judicial legitimacy in various ways depending on the context. As judicial systems across the United States become increasingly more diverse, the findings presented in this project provide some insight into the public’s response to this shift in composition of the courts.
Chapter One introduces the project and outlines how it both aligns with and departs from much of the extant literature. Chapter Two provides a review of the literature as it pertains to the theories relevant to the broader project and the following empirical chapters. Chapter Three focuses strictly on the relationship between descriptive representation and judicial legitimacy, both at the state-level and individual-level. Chapter Four extends the findings of Chapter Three by incorporating individuals’ descriptive representation expectations into the preceding chapter’s analyses. Chapter Five examines the relationship between substantive representation and legitimacy. Chapter Six concludes by discussing the contributions and limitations of the project, as well as directions for future research.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Redman, Shanesmr105@pitt.edusmr105
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBonneau,
Committee MemberKanthak,
Committee MemberShineman,
Committee MemberCaldeira,
Date: 3 May 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 April 2021
Approval Date: 3 May 2021
Submission Date: 1 March 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 217
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: legitimacy, representation, survey experiment, judges, state courts
Date Deposited: 03 May 2021 15:27
Last Modified: 03 May 2021 15:27


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