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77 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 343 (2020)
Supreme Court Journalism: From Law to Spectacle?

handle is hein.journals/waslee77 and id is 343 raw text is: 









   Supreme Court Journalism: From Law

                                            to  Spectacle?


              Barry  Sullivan*  and Cristina  Carmody   Tilley**


                            Abstract

    Few  people outside certain specialized sectors of the press and
the  legal profession have  any  particular  reason  to read  the
increasingly voluminous opinions through which  the Justices of the
Supreme  Court explain their interpretations of the Constitution and
laws. Most  of what  the public knows  about the Supreme   Court
necessarily comes  from  the press. That fact raises questions of
considerable importance  to the functioning of our constitutional
democracy:  How, for example, does the press describe the work of
the Supreme  Court? And  has the way in which  the press describes
the work of the Court changed over the past several decades?
     This Article seeks to address those questions by comparing the
print media  coverage of two highly salient cases involving similar
legal issues decided fifty years apart. Our study suggests that, at
least in highly salient cases, the nature of print media coverage may
well have  changed  dramatically  during  that fifty-year interval.
More  specifically, our study suggests that while the mid-twentieth
century press described the Court's decisions largely in terms of the
legal questions presented, the contemporary press seems more likely
to describe the Court's decisions in non-legal terms-as something
resembling  a spectacle, in which unelected judges are presumed to


    *  Cooney & Conway Chair in Advocacy and George Anastaplo Professor of
Constitutional Law and History, Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
   **  Associate Professor, University of Iowa College of Law. The authors wish
to thank John Dehn, James Gathii, and Michael Kaufman for helpful comments
on earlier drafts of this article. We are also indebted to our research assistants,
including Emily Ancona, Emily Eggmann, Rachel Groves, Stephen Hilfer, Pilar
Mendez, and especially Helaina Metcalf, whose enthusiasm for the project
matched her expertise and attention to detail. We are also grateful for financial
support from the Cooney & Conway Chair Fund, the Loyola University Chicago
Law Faculty Research Fund, and the University of Iowa College of Law Empirical
Research Fund. The usual stipulation applies.


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