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.
Chapter 3: Is Judicial Independence a Useful Concept?
Is Judicial Independence a Useful Concept?
This chapter has two theses. First, I argue that the confusion over the meaning of judicial independence cannot be eliminated. Second, I argue that judicial independence is not a useful, analytic concept. It does not promote either our understanding of how courts function or the design of desirable judicial institutions. Debate over these issues of understanding and design would advance more quickly if we abandoned the use of the concept: Jurisprudential debates over judicial independence would explicitly address the controversial theories of adjudication that underlie current debates, while inquiries into the effects of various institutional features on judicial performance would proceed without a fruitless diversion into the role of judicial independence.
These two theses ...