American Public Response Toward Supreme Court Opinion Reasoning

Last registered on March 29, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
American Public Response Toward Supreme Court Opinion Reasoning
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007429
Initial registration date
March 28, 2021
Last updated
March 29, 2021, 10:54 AM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Columbia University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Stanford University

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-03-28
End date
2021-03-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
I investigate whether informing the American public of not only the Supreme Court’s mere endorsement of a policy stance but also its reasoning changes the former’s political opinion. The significance of the project is to extend existing literature regarding the legitimacy-conferring function of the Court, namely, that the Court could potentially sway the public opinion in its way by adopting a certain policy position. Existing literature focuses on the effect the Court has on public opinion by simply ruling a certain way, but I focus on the effect of providing the American public also with information about why the Court ruled in this way according to its own majority opinion. I will employ an online survey experiment on Qualtrics.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Cao, Qitong and Yiwei Tang. 2021. "American Public Response Toward Supreme Court Opinion Reasoning." AEA RCT Registry. March 29. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7429-1.0
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2021-03-28
Intervention End Date
2021-03-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The main dependent variables include attitudinal measures about the respondent's level of agreement with four recent Supreme Court rulings on a 5-point scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree, as well as a 100-point scale feeling thermometer measuring favorability toward the Court. I will also pool the results from the four cases together to estimate the average effect that the Court's endorsement and reasoning have on public opinion.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary outcomes include attitudinal measures about the respondent's level of agreement with four causes related to the four Supreme Court rulings, such as equality of LGBT Americans as related to Bostock v. Clayton County, the case that ruled against LGBT-based employment discrimination. Another secondary outcome is the respondent's acceptance of judicial review, that the Supreme Court should have the final say on American laws.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
I will employ an online survey experiment on Qualtrics. The subjects are Americans recruited on Lucid Fulcrum Exchange, an online platform that provides nationally representative U.S. samples for a cost of 1 dollar per complete response. The survey will first ask questions on demographic information. The second, experimental part of the survey will involve fact patterns on four recent Supreme Court rulings.
Experimental Design Details
The respondents will be randomly assigned into one of four treatment conditions: reading a simple policy statement summarizing the position that the Court took in the particular case, with no mentioning of the Court whatsoever; reading a policy statement and the Court’s endorsement of it; reading a policy statement and the Court’s reasoning in support of the policy, without mentioning the Court itself; or, reading a policy statement followed by the Court’s endorsement and reasoning. Respondents will be assigned to the same treatment condition across the four cases to avoid interference and speculation of the project’s intent. After each condition is presented, the respondents indicate their level of support for the particular policy statement. This factorial design will allow me to compare the legitimacy-conferring function of the Court through three different channels — mere endorsement, mere reasoning, or the combination of both — and discern which of them is the most influential in swaying public opinion.
Randomization Method
I will use stratified randomization based on partisanship in Qualtrics. Any respondents who are leaning Democrats or Republicans are categorized as partisans, and only those who indicate they don't feel closer to either party are categorized as Independents.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1400
Sample size: planned number of observations
1400
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1400
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Columbia University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2021-03-11
IRB Approval Number
AAAT5702
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials