The Government Deference Dimension of Judicial Decision Making: Evidence from the Supreme Court of Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Political Studies. 2020, 43 (4), 264-285. 10.1111/1467-9477.12176
Past research has revealed conflicting findings regarding the degree to which judges on European apex courts enact their policy preferences or instead disagree on the basis of divergent legal views. We investigate disagreement between judges on the Norwegian Supreme Court between 1996 and 2016. During this period, the court dealt with a greater volume of policy-relevant cases than previously. The method of appointment to the court was also changed to a judicial appointments commission. We analyse non-unanimous cases using item response theory models. We find that judges are not divided along left–right lines but instead disagree about the appropriate degree of deference to give to public authorities. There is no significant association between the appointing government and judges' ideal points either before or after the reform to appointments. Judges who were formerly academics are however much less deferential than career judges or judges who were previously lawyers in private practice.