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These Estimable Courts: Understanding Public Perceptions of State Judicial Institutions and Legal Policy-Making, Damon M. Cann and Jeff Yates

Reviewed by Eileen Braman



Utilizing nationally representative survey data from the 2010 and 2012 administrations of the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies, Damon M. Cann and Jeff Yates cover a good deal of ground that law and courts scholars and students of state politics will find interesting. The authors outline in a competent and comprehensive manner the factors that go into assessments of state court legitimacy, how citizens perceive judicial decision making, and what sort of selection method people prefer for state judges.

Cann and Yates offer a relative ranking of high court legitimacy for each of the 50 states that they extrapolate by looking at the responses to legitimacy questions from respondents in their nationally representative sample. Specifically, they weigh survey responses for several “respondent types” in the national sample (for example, white, female, college educated; p. 28) by their relative proportions in each state population to come up with the legitimacy ranking. One might question whether it would be more accurate and straightforward to derive such rankings from survey questions that are representative of the population in each state, but that is not the data they are working with. To the extent that the reader is willing to go along with their methodology, the authors’ findings are intriguing: citizens of Washington State are deemed

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