Over the last several decades, the European Court of Justice has become an extremely powerful political institution. Indeed, perhaps no other institution has contributed more to the building and maintenance of the European Community. Recently, the Court of Justice has assumed a more visible, if not more activist, role in the politics of the European Community, causing some to question the basic legitimacy of the institution. This article addresses the question of mass perceptions of the Court, focusing on its salience and legitimacy among ordinary citizens of the EC. Our findings indicate that the Court is fairly visible to the mass public, but that its level of legitimacy is fairly low. The precarious position of the Court within the minds of the mass public can also be seen in the general unwillingness to accept as definitive an unpopular decision by the European Court of Justice. This finding is important because it points to a major consequence of low institutional legitimacy – the inability to gain compliance with decisions that citizens oppose. Should the Court become intertwined in a conspicuous political controversy, it may well face substantial challenges to its authority.