Table of Contents

The Elgar Companion to Public Choice

The Elgar Companion to Public Choice

Elgar original reference

Edited by William F. Shughart II and Laura Razzolini

This authoritative and encyclopaedic reference work provides a thorough account of the public choice approach to economics and politics. The Companion breaks new ground by joining together the most important issues in the field in a single comprehensive volume. It contains state-of-the-art discussions of both old and contemporary problems, including new work by the founding fathers as well as contributions by a new generation of younger scholars.  

Chapter 13: The Judiciary

Gary M. Anderson

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice


Gary M. Anderson 1 Introduction A cursory examination of the judiciary might lead one reasonably to conclude that the legal rulings rendered by judges are essentially unaffected by outside influences. This relative independence of the judiciary is usually assumed to derive from the institutional insulation of sitting judges from those interested parties who may be significantly impacted by their rulings. For example, laws against bribery and corruption are strict and zealously enforced. At the federal level, judges are granted lifetime tenure, albeit subject to the sanction of impeachment in extreme cases; at the state level, judges typically serve for more limited periods but generally enjoy high security of office. Therefore, judges seemingly are well protected against political threats designed to influence their decisions in favor of particular interested parties. The independence of the judiciary is sometimes portrayed as necessary to ensure that this branch of government functions as an effective counterweight to the legislative and executive branches. Many scholars have defended the ‘independence’ of the judiciary on normative grounds, arguing that the welfare of society is thereby enhanced (see Buchanan 1977). According to this view, the role of the judiciary is to protect society from unconstitutional actions by the other branches, the judges being motivated to behave in this way by their concern for the public interest. Consistent with this view, the independent judiciary might be regarded as an agent representing the interests of groups which would otherwise be unrepresented (or underrepresented) in other political forums....

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