Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Roberta Herzberg

Abstract

The United States Supreme Court bUilding is intimidating, to say the least. The massive structure rises four stories above the ground and the three million dollars worth of white marble shines starkly against the blue sky.l The inscription "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW" runs horizontally across the top of the impressive structure. This beautiful bUilding is part of the imagery associated with the Supreme Court. Along with black robes and gavels, the Supreme Court has carefully crafted the images that are connected with the justices and the Court.

Unlike the leaders ofthe legislative and executive branches, the justices of the Supreme Court have historically chosen to avoid the harsh glare of the media. The Court has become largely a mysterious organization, requiring even their law clerks to commit to secrecy. In an era of massive amounts of constant information, an organization that has managed to keep their actions mostly secretive is bound to be shrouded in both mystery and misunderstanding. With such a great deal of mystery surrounding this aspect ofthe government, there is an open opportunity to affect how the Court is viewed through the influence of the media. Through our research, we will attempt to characterize more closely the nature of this influence. Looking specifically at how the issues of the Court are framed by the news media, we examine the presence of outside quotes in the press coverage of the Court, its decisions, or the Justices themselves. We find that these sources are not as frequently used in the news media as we had originally expected. We also found a general polarization in the opinions of the sources used.

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