This paper, which just appeared in the SSRN Empirical & Experimental Journal, sheds some light on the cultural components of reasonableness in Supreme Court jurisprudence: Dan Kahan (Yale), Dave Hoffman (Temple), and Donald Braman (GWU Law), "Whose Eyes are You Going to Believe? An Empirical (and Normative) Assessment of Scott v. Harris". Here is the abstract:
This paper accepts the unusual invitation to see for yourself issued by the Supreme Court in Scott v. Harris, 127 S. Ct. 1769 (2007). Scott held that a police officer did not violate the Fourth Amendment when he deliberately rammed his car into that of a fleeing motorist who refused to pull over for speeding and instead attempted to evade the police in a high-speed chase. The majority did not attempt to rebut the arguments of the single Justice who disagreed with its conclusion that no reasonable juror could find the fleeing driver did not pose a deadly risk to the public. Instead, the Court uploaded to its website a video of the chase, filmed from inside the pursuing police cruisers, and invited members of the public to make up their own minds after viewing it. We showed the video to a diverse sample of 1,350 Americans. Overall a majority agreed with the Court's resolution of the key issues, but within the sample there were sharp differences of opinion along cultural, ideological, and other lines. We attribute these divisions to the psychological disposition of individuals to resolve disputed facts in a manner supportive of their group identities. The paper also addresses the normative significance of these findings. The result in the case, we argue, might be defensible, but the Court's reasoning was not. By insisting there was only one reasonable view of facts, the Court needlessly invested its decision with culturally partisan overtones that detracted from the decision's legitimacy.
Really interesting stuff. If we want to better understand the dynamics of race and class in this country, this seems like a worthwhile place to start.