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Concerned that scholars in various disciplines were talking past each other and that policy debates concerning judicial independence were impoverished, the editors convened a conference of scholars from the disciplines of law, political science, history, economics and sociology. Judicial Independence at the Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Approach is a collection of essays reflecting the disciplinary perspectives of the authors and the shared understanding that emerged from the conference.

Stephen B.BurbankBarryFriedmanDeborahGoldberg

What do we mean when we speak of “judicial independence”? One might think the answer was obvious. After all, the phrase is invoked regularly by proponents and opponents alike. When emerging democracies seek to emulate the success of the United States in preserving the rule of law, an independent judiciary is often at the top of their wish list. Yet, in the United States itself, presidential candidates joust over the extent to which judges should be accountable to popular will. Meanwhile, the rights of countless litigants—not just criminal defendants and civil liberties plaintiffs, but ordinary citizens and corporate entities in mill-run legal disputes—are thought to depend on some notion of an independent judiciary available to rule on difficult and often controversial issues.

Although great ...

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