Media Politicization of the United States Supreme Court


Media, Press, Courts, United States Supreme Court, Coverage, Politics, Corpus Linguistics, New York Times, Medios, prensa, tribunales, Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos, políticos, Corpus lingüísticos

Document Type



English Abstract: Both media scholars and Justices of the United States Supreme Court have suggested that press coverage of the Court increasingly politicizes the Court as an institution, by characterizing the Court’s Justices as ideological actors and by depicting the outputs of the Court as political decisions driven by personal preference rather than apolitical outcomes driven by constitutional doctrine and legal precedent. This study builds upon earlier efforts to investigate the veracity of this assumption, using a corpus linguistics methodology to track the use of several linguistic signals that are widely regarded as politicizing. A case study investigation of the full corpus of New York Times articles from the 1950s through the 2000s suggests an increase in the use of explicitly ideological descriptors of the Justices; an increase in references to the appointing presidents of the Justices; and an increase in the disparity of coverage of 5-4 decisions and unanimous decisions.

Publication Title

Oñati Socio-Legal Series

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