Speaking with One Voice?: Ethno-national Division on the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Posted: 11 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
The challenge of designing institutions to manage ethno-national conflict is one of the enduring concerns of political science. One important but relatively understudied aspect of this challenge is the design of constitutional courts. Courts are likely to play a key role in the maintenence of a constitutional settlement. But this role can be especially onerous in a deeply divided and post-conflict setting where the rule of law is weak and judges have ethno-national affiliations that may undermine the appearance of judicial neutrality. In such contexts, a court’s authority (including compliance with its decisions) cannot be taken for granted.
With reference the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and using an original dataset of the Court's non-unanimous plenary decisions, we test several hypotheses about the degree to which ethno-national affiliation influences judicial behavior. We find that (1) judges on the Constitutional Court do in fact divide predictably along ethno-national lines, (2) that these patterns are robust to changes in the tenure system, and (3) are independent of party political background.
Keywords: Law and Courts, Judicial Behavior, Bosnia, Consociationalism
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