Much Ado About Nothing? Claims About Political Appointment to the Norwegian Supreme Court - And What to Do - And Not to Do - About it
Tidsskrift for Rettsvitenskap, vol. 126, 3/2013, s. 364–371
9 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013 Last revised: 5 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2013
Should recent reports of political appointments of Norwegian Supreme Court judges give rise to concern and reform of the process, e.g. toward more explicitly politicized hearings or vetting of nominees?
Renewed attention to the patterns of political and ideological leanings among these judges should be welcome, and some observed patterns seem plausible. Insofar as such patterns can be identified, it may seem misplaced to criticize Grendstad et al. for overlooking the differences in procedures for selecting judges and the different judicial cultures, e.g. between the U.S. and Norway. If there are statistically significant correlations, the appropriate response may well be to explore possible mechanisms – different from those in full view in the U.S.
But the recent research findings that allege a politicized appointment process can be improved in at least two ways. I shall argue in section 1 that the evidence Grendstad et al. present for such ‘political’ appointments is weak. Section 2 suggests that more dimensions than political right-left merit more attention partly due to the internationalization of the judiciary. In conclusion, I suggest that these comments should not diminish but rather increase the need for further research on the political and other ideological bias of the Norwegian Supreme Court – as of other parts of the domestic, regional and international judiciary. The appointment process and voting patterns of Supreme Court justices merit more public attention, e.g. as argued by present Chief Justice Schei – though not for the reasons claimed by Grendstad et al.
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