What Determines the Institutional Legitimacy of the High Court of Australia?

49 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2020

See all articles by Shiri Krebs

Shiri Krebs

Deakin Law School; Stanford Center on International Security and Cooperation (CISAC)

Ingrid L. Nielsen

Deakin University

Russell Smyth

Monash University - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

Judicial legitimacy is fundamental to ensuring public acceptance of courts’ decisions when judges have no electoral mandate. Yet, in Australia, we know very little about the legitimacy of the courts in the eyes of the general public or the factors associated with judicial legitimacy. Drawing on a survey of a representative sample of Australian adults, we address the question: what is the level of legitimacy of, or diffuse support for, the High Court of Australia among the Australian public, and what factors are correlated with the legitimacy of the Court? Our findings suggest that judicial legitimacy in Australia is mainly dependent upon people’s commitment to structural democracy and democratic institutions. Consistent with previous studies regarding the Supreme Court of the United States, we find that Australians’ loyalty to the High Court is not dependent on ideological commitment, for example, to ideas of tolerance or individual liberty. Instead, diffuse support for the High Court is based, primarily, on people’s level of confidence in national institutions more broadly, on their level of support for notions of the rule of law, and on their commitment to the multi-party political system.

Keywords: High Court of Australia, Legitimacy, Trust in Institutions, Public Opinion, Rule of Law Attitudes

JEL Classification: k10, k30, k40

Suggested Citation

Krebs, Shiri and Nielsen, Ingrid L. and Smyth, Russell, What Determines the Institutional Legitimacy of the High Court of Australia? (2019). Melbourne University Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3684994

Shiri Krebs (Contact Author)

Deakin Law School ( email )

221 Burwood Highway
Burwood
Burwood, Victoria 3125, Victoria 3125
Australia
+61 3 924 68921 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/people/shiri-krebs

Stanford Center on International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) ( email )

616 Serra St., Encina Hall, C237
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-725-2702 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/people/shiri_krebs

Ingrid L. Nielsen

Deakin University ( email )

70 Elgar Road
Burwood, Victoria 3125
Australia

Russell Smyth

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3
Australia

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
14
Abstract Views
108
PlumX Metrics