When Are Judges Influenced by Public Opinion? Switzerland and the US Compared

One way for judges to be responsive to the concerns of ordinary people is to take public opinion into account in their decisions. In this paper, I examine cases in which the US Supreme Court and the Swiss Federal Tribunal have explicitly done so. To identify relevant decisions, I use a keyword-based citation-analysis, complemented by a qualitative analysis of the rulings. I compare the case law of these two courts based on the subject matter at stake, the facets of public opinion courts mention, the method they use to ascertain public opinion, and the way they justify their reliance on public opinion.