Personal or Political Patronage? Judicial Appointments and Justice Loyalty in the High Court of Australia

28 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2021

See all articles by Patrick Leslie

Patrick Leslie

Australian National University (ANU)

Zoe Robinson

Australian National University, School of Politics and International Relations

Russell Smyth

Monash University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 5, 2021

Abstract

We examine whether Justices appointed to the High Court of Australia are more likely to find in favour of the federal government when the Prime Minister who appointed them is in office than when subsequent Prime Ministers are in office, over the period 1995 to 2019. We find evidence of a loyalty effect, even when subsequent Prime Ministers are of the same political party as the Prime Minister who appointed them. When we distinguish between Justices appointed by Labor and Liberal Prime Ministers, we find that the loyalty effect holds for Justices appointed by the Howard and Turnbull governments. These findings are important because they are central to the issues of judicial independence and the rule of law.

Keywords: High Court of Australia, empirical legal studies, judicial behaviour, Australian Politics, law and courts

Suggested Citation

Leslie, Patrick and Robinson, Zoe and Smyth, Russell, Personal or Political Patronage? Judicial Appointments and Justice Loyalty in the High Court of Australia (April 5, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3819419 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3819419

Patrick Leslie (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Zoe Robinson

Australian National University, School of Politics and International Relations ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Russell Smyth

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3
Australia

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