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11 - Norway: Managed Openness and Transparency

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2017

Gunnar Grendstad
Affiliation:
University of Bergen
William R. Shaffer
Affiliation:
Purdue University
Eric N. Waltenburg
Affiliation:
Purdue University
Richard Davis
Affiliation:
Brigham Young University, Utah
David Taras
Affiliation:
Mount Royal University
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

The Norwegian Supreme Court (Norges Høyesterett) has the potential to bore with a tremendously large policy-making auger. It sits at the apex of a hierarchically organized judicial system. It has appellate jurisdiction over all cases concerning civil, criminal, administrative, and constitutional law. Practiced by constitutional convention at least since the 1850s and finally formalized in Article 89 of the Constitution in 2015, the Court possesses the power of judicial review; thus, as the nation's highest court, it has the authority over the constitutionality of government orders and parliamentary statutes. And since 2008, the Court has had total discretion over the composition of its merits docket, reserving its finite decisional resources to the review of only those cases that would have the greatest consequence for policy and the development of the law. Little wonder, then, that legal historians have described Norway's Supreme Court as among Europe's most powerful benches.

Irregularly, the media has covered the appointments to the Supreme Court. And occasionally the Court's policy-making capacity has attracted media attention. With respect to its decisions, the Court has made efforts both to accommodate the Norwegian media's interests and to institutionalize its interactions with the press. These efforts have resulted in a policy toward the press of managed openness and transparency, where the Court responds to press inquiries in as timely and understandable a fashion as possible, while stopping short of issuing formalized press releases and Court statements that would provide comments on its judgments.

In this chapter we explore the Norwegian Supreme Court's interactions with the media. Our chapter takes the following form. First we offer a brief review of the Court's organization, power, and place in Norway's political system. Then we describe and discuss the Court's formal organ for press relations – the Supreme Court of Norway's Information Services. Here, we take up the High Court's various accommodations and services to the Norwegian media. In the fourth section, we turn to an examination of the nature of the relationship between the media and the Court and its members. Finally, we conclude in the final section with a consideration of possible future trends in the media's attention to and coverage of the Court.

Type
Chapter
Information
Justices and Journalists
The Global Perspective
, pp. 235 - 254
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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