Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=558322
 
 

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Court of Public Opinion: Government Accountability and Judicial Independence


Matthew Stephenson


Harvard Law School


The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 379-399, 2004

Abstract:     
Using a simple model of policy making in a system characterized by formal separation of powers, judicial dependence on government support, asymmetric information between voters and the government, and political accountability of the policy branch, I show conditions under which rational voters force the government to cede power over legislative decisions to the courts. Specifically, the public uses its ability to hold the elected branches of government accountable to enforce a judicial veto when judicial opposition to legislation provides more reliable information to voters than government support for legislation does. The model thus provides a theoretical justification for, and suggests important limits to, the common assumption that disregard for judicial decisions is politically costly for elected politicians. The model also demonstrates how other observed patterns in judicial politics - including judicial rubber-stamping of government decisions and government passing the buck to courts - can arise as equilibria in the same simple framework.

Accepted Paper Series


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Date posted: June 24, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Stephenson, Matthew, Court of Public Opinion: Government Accountability and Judicial Independence. The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 379-399, 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=558322

Contact Information

Matthew Caleb Stephenson (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-9863 (Phone)
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