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Off to the Courts? Or the Agency? Public Attitudes on Bureaucratic and Legal Approaches to Policy Enforcement

1
School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
2
Department of Political Science, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 February 2018 / Revised: 16 April 2018 / Accepted: 17 April 2018 / Published: 24 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intersection between Law, Politics and Public Policy)
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Abstract

A key curiosity in the operation of the American regulatory state lies with its hybrid structure, defined by centralized, bureaucratic approaches but also more decentralized actions such as lawsuits brought by private citizens in the courts. While current research on these two pathways focuses at the elite level—exploring how and why political actors and institutions opt for legal or administrative strategies for implementing different public policies—there is little research that examines public attitudes toward how policy is enforced in the U.S. Given that the public is a key partner in this process, this paper integrates public attitudes into the discussion, tapping into conceptions of “big government,” privatization, and the tort reform movement. Using original data from a series of vignette-based experiments included in the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, we examine public preferences about how policy is regulated—by private citizens in the courts or by government officials in agencies—across a broad number of policy areas. We offer one of the first studies that adjudicates the boundaries of public attitudes on litigation and bureaucratic regulation in the U.S., offering implications for how elites might approach the design of policy implementation for different issue areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: policy implementation; bureaucratic; administrative agencies, legal; private litigation; tort reform; public opinion; attitudes; survey experiment; policy substance; American state policy implementation; bureaucratic; administrative agencies, legal; private litigation; tort reform; public opinion; attitudes; survey experiment; policy substance; American state
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Mulroy, Q.; Gadarian, S. Off to the Courts? Or the Agency? Public Attitudes on Bureaucratic and Legal Approaches to Policy Enforcement. Laws 2018, 7, 16.

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