The Normative Force of Higher-Order Law: Evidence from Six Countries During the COVID-19 Pandemic
72 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020 Last revised: 20 Feb 2021
Date Written: May 2, 2020
An important question in law and political science is whether higher-order law—such as constitutional law and international human rights law—has normative pull with ordinary citizens. An experimental literature has begun to study this question, but methodological obstacles have made it all but impossible to draw consistent conclusions. We study the normative force of constitutional law in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which allows us to overcome some of these common methodological challenges. We administered survey experiments in six countries—the United States, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, and China—that assessed support for liberty restrictions designed to combat COVID-19 while experimentally manipulating information about the constitutionality of these policies. We find that law’s normative force of law varies across countries and issues. Respondents in countries with strong constitutional traditions are most willing to be swayed by law, but only for the most coercive policies.
Keywords: COVID-19, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Law, Public Opinion
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