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We present a new cross-national measure of de facto judicial independence, which is available for 200 countries from 1948 to 2012. To do so, we introduce a statistical measurement model for uncovering latent concepts commonly encountered in time-series, cross-sectional analyses in comparative politics and international relations. Our approach addresses unique challenges that arise in these data: temporal dependence in the observed and unobserved variables, conceptual boundedness in the latent quantity, and substantial missing data and measurement error in the observable indicators. The resulting measures match a common conceptual definition of independence with greater reliability than existing alternatives. The model is extensible to many concepts in comparative politics and international relations.
At the intersection of behavioral and institutional studies of policy making lie a series of questions about how elite choices affect mass public opinion. Scholars have considered how judicial decisions—especially US Supreme Court decisions—affect individuals’ support for specific policy positions. These studies yield a series of competing findings. Whereas past research uses opinion surveys to assess how individuals’ opinions are shaped, we believe that modern techniques for analyzing social media provide analytic leverage that traditional approaches do not offer. We present a framework for employing Twitter data to study mass opinion discourse. We find that the Supreme Court’s decisions relating to same-sex marriage in 2013 had significant effects on how the public discussed same-sex marriage and had a polarizing effect on mass opinion. We conclude by connecting these findings and our analyses to larger problems and debates in the area of democratic deliberation and big-data analysis.
Liberal concepts of democracy envision courts as key institutions for the promotion and protection of democratic regimes. Yet social science scholarship suggests that courts are fundamentally constrained in ways that undermine their ability to do so. Recognizing these constraints, this book argues that courts can influence regime instability by affecting inter-elite conflict. They do so in three ways: by helping leaders credibly reveal their rationales for policy choices that may appear to violate legal rules; by encouraging leaders to less frequently make decisions that raise concerns about rule violations; and by encouraging the opposition to accept potential rule violations. Courts promote the prudent use of power in each of these approaches. This book evaluates the implications of this argument using a century of global data tracking judicial politics and democratic survival.
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.
Do the processes states use to select judges for peak courts influence gender diversity? Scholars have debated whether concentrating appointment power in a single individual or diffusing appointment power across many individuals best promotes gender diversification. Others have claimed that the precise structure of the process matters less than fundamental changes in the process. We clarify these theoretical mechanisms, derive testable implications concerning the appointment of the first woman to a state’s highest court, and then develop a matched-pair research design within a Rosenbaum permutation approach to observational studies. Using a global sample beginning in 1970, we find that constitutional change to the judicial selection process decreases the time until the appointment of the first woman justice. These results reflect claims that point to institutional disruptions as critical drivers of gender diversity on important political posts.
Scholars and policy makers need systematic assessments of the validity of the measures produced by V-Dem. In Chapter 6, we present our approach to comparative data validation – the set of steps we take to evaluate the precision, accuracy, and reliability of our measures, both in isolation and compared to extant measures of the same concepts. Our approach assesses the degree to which measures align with shared concepts (content validation), shared rules of translation (data generation assessment), and shared realities (convergent validation). Within convergent validity, we execute two convergent validity tests. First, we examine convergent validity as it is typically conceived – examining convergence between V-Dem measures and extant measures. Second, we evaluate the level of convergence across coders, considering the individual coder and country traits that predict coder convergence. Throughout the chapter, we focus on three indices included in the V-Dem data set: polyarchy, corruption, and core civil society. These three concepts collectively provide a “hard test” for the validity of our data, representing a range of existing measurement approaches, challenges, and solutions.
This chapter sets forth the conceptual scheme for the V–Dem project. We begin by discussing the concept of democracy. Next, we lay out seven principles by which this key concept may be understood – electoral, liberal, majoritarian, consensual, participatory, deliberative, and egalitarian. Each defines a “variety“ of democracy, and together they offer a fairly comprehensive accounting of the concept as used in the world today. Next, we show how this seven-part framework fits into our overall thinking about democracy, including multiple levels of disaggregation – to components, subcomponents, and indicators. The final section of the chapter discusses several important caveats and clarifications pertaining to this ambitious taxonomic exercise.
This chapter recounts how a project of this scale came together and why it has succeeded. Five main factors were responsible for V–Dem’s success: timing, inclusion, deliberation, administrative centralization, and fund–raising. First, planning for V-Dem began at a time when both social scientists and practitioners were realizing that they needed better democracy measures. This made it possible to recruit collaborators and find funding. Second, the leaders of the project were always eager to expand the team to acquire whatever expertise they lacked and share credit with everyone who contributed. Third, the project leaders practiced an intensely deliberative decision–making style to ensure that all points of view were consulted and only decisions that won wide acceptance were adopted. Fourth, centralizing the execution of the agreed–upon tasks helped tremendously by streamlining processes and promoting standardization, documentation, professionalization, and coordination of a large number of intricate steps. Finally, successful fund–raising from a mix of both research foundations and bilateral and multilateral organizations has been critical.