Elite rhetoric is an important aspect of democracy, and understanding why elites alter their rhetorical tone is vital to understanding the nature of public–elite interaction. In this paper, we identify the conditions under which insulated elites respond to public opinion by changing the amount of disagreeable rhetoric they emphasize. We examine Supreme Court opinions and theorize that the majority limits the use of disagreeable rhetoric—language with harsh, unpleasant, or negative connotations—in salient cases with the intention of dulling public opposition to rulings. We test our expectations on two levels, the first using a broad measure of public mood on a large sample of cases and the second using a small sample with issue-specific public opinion measures. We find that as public opinion diverges from the Court, the majority tones down its disagreeable rhetoric, but only in salient cases.
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||Political Research Quarterly|
|State||Published - Jun 1 2018|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 University of Utah.
- Supreme Court
- disagreeable rhetoric
- public opinion
- text analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science