Law & Economics Working Papers
The relationship between de jure and de facto judicial independence is much debated in the literature on judicial politics. Some studies find no relationship between the formal rules governing the structure of the judiciary and de facto judicial independence, while others find a tight correlation. This article sets out to reassess the relationship between de jure and de facto judicial independence using a new theory and an expanded data set. De jure institutional protections, we argue, do not work in isolation but work conjunctively, so that particular combinations of protections are more likely to be effective than others. We find that rules governing the selection and removal of judges are the only de jure protections that actually enhance judicial independence in practice and that they work conjunctively. This effect is strongest in authoritarian regimes and in contexts with checks on executive authority.
James Melton & Tom Ginsburg, "Does De Jure Judicial Independence Really Matter? A Reevaluation of Explanations for Judicial Independence" (Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Working Paper No. 612, 2014).