Political Science Now

Theme Panel: Judicial Networks

Theme Panel: Judicial Networks

Fri, September 2, 10:00 to 11:30am

One of the recent great transformations brought about by globalization is the so called “rule of law revival” (Carothers 1998). Suddenly in democracies around the world, no matter how consolidated or old they are, the rule of law is considered to be necessary condition for economic development, control of corruption, protection of rights, and peaceful solution of conflicts. A key part of this transformation is the ubiquitous empowerment of courts and judges, a true “global expansion of judicial power” (Tate and Vallinder 1997). Whereas this transformation involves ideational, institutional, and material changes, it has proven easier to implement the last (e.g. promoting the rule of law through economic incentives), and hardest to achieve the first (e.g. changing social and individual values). Institutional change is a middle ground that can be activated through material incentives and that, at the same time, is thought to eventually produce a change in behavior and ultimately ideas. Data gathered by the Comparative Constitutions Project (CCP) unequivocally shows that constitutions all around the world have been reformed to include more rights, and to give more judicial review powers to judges, and to provide more institutional safeguards to ensure their independence from undue influence (see e.g. Ginsburg & Melton, 2013).

However, it is by now widely recognized that simply reforming the constitutions does not automatically bring about the desired behavior not to mention a deeper change in ideas or values. In fact, there is still considerable debate about whether, to what extent and under what conditions courts can act effectively as a mechanism to protect rights and to hold political authorities accountable and thus to fulfill the expectations generated by institutional reforms. Moreover, the excitement about courts as champions of liberty and rights in developing democracies seems now to have been replaced by more cautious, even skeptical, accounts (see e.g. Popova 2012). One of the most important questions in this respect is how to explain the connection between “structure” and “agency”; in other words, whether and how institutions, ideas, and social contexts combine to explain judicial behavior —why judges decide cases as they do, especially cases of major policy or political significance.

View in the 2016 Online Program.

Matthew C. Ingram, University at Albany, SUNY

Ezequiel Alejo Gonzalez Ocantos

Judicial Networks and the Informal Dimension of Judicial Politics
Bjoern Dressel
Raul Alberto Sanchez Urribarri, La Trobe University
Alexander Stroh, University of Bayreuth
Judicial Networks as Influence Mechanisms in the European Rule of Law Promotion
Daniela Piana
Collaborators Come and Go: A Dynamic Model of Interest Group Networks
Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Ohio State University
Dino P. Christenson, Boston University
Informal Judicial Politics in Asia: Insights from the Philippines
Bjoern Dressel
Meritocracy or Connections? Clientele Networks in the Mexican Federal Judiciary
Andrea Pozas-Loyo, UNAM-IIJ; Julio Rios-Figueroa, CIDE