By and large, judicial authority is a product of perceived validity. Judges lack an independent means of enforcement; they wield "no influence over either the sword or the purse," "neither force nor will." Rather, the judicial branch operates under the auspices of its legitimacy, "a product of substance and perception that shows itself in the people's acceptance of the Judiciary as fit to determine what the Nation's law means and to declare what it demands." When the public sees the judiciary as legitimate, it accepts and adheres to its rulings even when it may perceive certain decisions to be ideologically opposed or legally incorrect; public perception thus drives the "power" and "prerogative" of the courts. Where public perception sours, the rule of law itself is threatened, "sap[ping] the foundations of public and private confidence, and ... introduc[ing] in its stead universal distrust and distress."
G. Alexander Nunn,
Introduction: Perceived Legitimacy and the State Judiciary,
70 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol70/iss6/8