Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Kirk A. Randazzo


The study of judicial independence in comparative environments is an increasingly important endeavor for scholars and policy-makers. Scholars seek to understand how an institution without any degree of enforceable power can leverage its position into an influential member of country politics. Policy-makers assume that a high degree of judicial independence correlates with the rule of law, and consequently, a respect for the outcomes from judicial processes. While in recent history the United States Supreme Court has enjoyed a relatively stable degree of judicial autonomy, courts in other countries are plagued by institutional weakness, attacks from other institutions, or corruption from outside forces. As such, scholars frequently attend to the examination of the development of judicial independence. Scholars answer this question through a variety of theoretical frameworks. One theory notes the effect of political competition on the executive, who seeks to insure his or her policy preferences by providing the judiciary with more power. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the executive may seek to further subordinate courts when political competition is high because of political uncertainty surrounding elections. By manipulating the courts as an executive ally, the leader can use the courts to enact policies or even retain power. The final major theory revolving in the literature examines the strategic nature of judges. Judges may wish to defect from the current regime as a signal to the incoming regime to maintain their position on the court. Typically, the literautre examined the growth of judicial pwoer through the enactment of constitutional reforms or when judges issue opinions. Despite the depth of work on the development of judicial independence, it is still unclear when and how scholars should observe these phenomena. vi When will national actors seek to manipulate judicial power? What are the other manners in which they will attempt to subvert or support the judiciary? The goal of this dissertation is to identify when and how actors manipulate the judiciary to advantage their position or their policies. Thus, the dissertation will answer a series of related questions: when will governmental actors attempt to influence the judiciary? What strategies will each actor use in order to manipulate judicial independence? Finally, do the strategies yield successful results for the institution?