Interaction Effect Judicial Policy Uncertainty and Preference Divergence

Who sits on the Bench? Evaluation of Judicial Nominees for Constitutional Courts

Abstract

How do citizens evaluate candidates for highest courts? We argue that the public demands judicial integrity from candidates, which depends on the public’s perception of a candidates’ political independence and her level of judicial professionalism. We employ a discrete-choice experiment in order to untangle the relative importance of both dimensions for gaining public support of a judicial nominee and to identify the type of nominee the public prefers most. We also identify the “price” in terms of deviation from the ideal of political independence citizens are willing to pay in order to receive a candidate with a high level of judicial professionalism. Our results clarify the conditions under which a judicial candidate’s perceived lack of political independence can be compensated. Moreover, studying the public’s ideal judge has major implications for understanding the mechanisms that explain legitimacy attributions to institutions that are, like the judiciary, not directly accountable to the public.

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