Establishing and Maintaining Judicial Independence

Georg Vanberg

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Establishing and Maintaining Judicial Independence


The ideal of judicial independence expresses the aspiration that judicial decisions should not be influenced in an inappropriate manner by considerations judged to be normatively irrelevant. Typically, judicial independence in this sense is associated with independence from the political interests of current office holders. Judges are independent when threats of sanctions or promises of rewards by public officials in return for favorable decisions do not have inappropriate sway over their decisions. An independent judiciary is created and maintained primarily because it serves the interests of those in a position to undermine it. This article considers how judicial independence can be established and maintained. It discusses the connection between judicial accountability and independence, and the role that accountability may play in preserving independence. The article also examines separation of powers and how it can guarantee judicial independence, and issues of credibility and reciprocity.

Keywords: judicial independence; judicial decisions; judges; independent judiciary; judicial accountability; separation of powers; credibility; reciprocity

Article.  8846 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law

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