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Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy$
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Nathaniel Persily, Jack Citrin, and Patrick J. Egan

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195329414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329414.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy

Nathaniel Persily

Oxford University Press

Whether a conflict deals with racial integration or abortion, school prayer or gay rights, flag burning or the right to die, the most polarizing controversies of today's politics often find a home in the courtroom as well as in the legislative chamber or candidate debate. This book examines these and other constitutional controversies by focusing on the opinions the American public has expressed in the last half century of polling on these issues. The data presented and analyzed here inform the debates in the respective literatures. The chapters that follow present public opinion data to describe what the American people have believed about these issues over the past half century and to infer from this how, if at all, court decisions have influenced the public's views.

Keywords:   gay rights, flag burning, American politics, popular constitutionalism, public opinion, court decisions

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