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Public Reactions to Noncompliance with Judicial Orders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 August 2021

Georgia State University, United States
Stanford University, United States
Princeton University, United States
Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
Emory University, United States
Ryan E. Carlin, Professor, Department of Political Science, Georgia State University, United States,
Mariana Castrellón, JSD Candidate, Stanford Law School, Stanford University, United States,
Varun Gauri, Lecturer, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, United States,
Isabel Cristina Jaramillo Sierra, Profesor Titular, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia,
Jeffrey K. Staton, Professor, Department of Political Science, Emory University, United States,


Constitutions empower people to ask judges for binding orders directing state agents to remedy rights violations, but state agents do not always comply. Scholars propose that by making it easier to observe noncompliance, courts can leverage public pressure for compliance when it exists. Yet, exposure to information about noncompliance might lead individuals to accept high levels of noncompliance and reduce support for judicial remedies. We estimate the rate of noncompliance with judges’ orders via a rigorous tracking study of the Colombian tutela. We then embed this rate in three survey experiments fielded with online national quota samples. We show that people find the noncompliance rate in the tutela highly unacceptable regardless of a variety of mitigating factors. We also show that public reactions to this information depend on prior expectations, a finding that stresses the importance of scholarship in cognitive psychology for studies of compliance in law and politics.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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