Judicial Checks on Corruption in the United States
Economics of Governance, Vol. 10, pp. 375-401, 2009
Posted: 14 Oct 2007 Last revised: 9 Jun 2011
Date Written: February 1, 2008
Judicial oversight provides an important check on executive and legislative power. Two components of judicial oversight have been identified in the literature: judicial independence and constitutional review. However, recent work using country-level data indicates that the effectiveness of constitutional review is largely determined by the rigidity of the constitution. In this paper, I use state-level data to test whether judicial independence and constitutional rigidity are related to a specific type of abuse of power by government officials: corruption in office. Specifically, I fit negative binomial regressions in which the dependent variable is the number of officials convicted for corrupt acts and the independent variables are (i) measures of judicial independence, such as judges' remuneration, method of appointment, and term length, along with various controls or (ii) measures of constitutional rigidity, such as legislative majorities required to propose constitutional amendments and provisions for constitutional conventions or constitutional initiatives, along with various controls. In general, states with higher levels of judicial independence and more rigid constitutions have lower levels of corruption per capita than states with the opposite characteristics.
Keywords: corruption, checks and balances, judicial independence, constitutional rigidity
JEL Classification: D72, D73, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation