Defying the Supreme Court: The Impact of Overt Resistance to Landmark Legal Rulings

Michael A. Zilis, Xander Borne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore the political impact of overt resistance to judicial rulings. Existing approaches to answering this question rely on a framework that overlooks important components of how resistance resonates in the modern era. Methods: Focusing on the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and resistance by local county clerks, we model the relationship between resistance and public opinion. We demonstrate that disobedience affected the media's framing of same-sex marriage, changing it from an issue framed primarily around equal rights to one in which alternative, anti-same-sex marriage frames proliferated. We then use these frames to design an externally valid survey experiment, which we administer to a national sample. Results: We find that resistance framing depresses support for same-sex marriage and increases support for defying the Court. Conclusion: The findings suggest that political resistance to the judiciary continues to resonate in the modern era, although not in the ways that many assume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-938
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the Southwestern Social Science Association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Defying the Supreme Court: The Impact of Overt Resistance to Landmark Legal Rulings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this