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American Economic Review: Vol. 94 No. 3 (June 2004)

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Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?

Article Citation

Hanssen, F Andrew. 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?" American Economic Review, 94(3): 712-729.

DOI: 10.1257/0002828041464470

Abstract

Independent courts render current policy more durable (by raising the cost of future policy changes) but may also engage in policy-making of their own. This paper asks: Is there an optimal level of judicial independence from the perspective of incumbent officials in the other branches? To answer that question, the paper develops a model of strategic institutional choice, and tests it on the judicial institutions of the American states. Consistent with the model's predictions, the most independenceenhancing institutions are found where political competition between rival parties is tightest and differences between party platforms are largest.

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Hanssen, F. Andrew


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