Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 17622019
Project Title(English) : Court Curbing: Elites and Judicial Power in the Age of Populism  
Project Title(Chinese) : 司法遏制:民綷浪潮下的政治精英及司法權力 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Schwartz, Alexander David 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) :  
Department : Department of Law
Institution : The University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2019 / 20
Fund Approved : 685,320
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-8-2022
Abstract as per original application
This research is about legislative and executive efforts to limit or control the power of courts, a phenomenon known as “court curbing”. The topic is both perennial and timely. Even in longstanding and stable constitutional democracies, courts may have their jurisdiction curtailed or their resources cut. In more extreme cases, the judges themselves may be impeached and replaced by more docile alternatives. Recent events in Poland and elsewhere have made questions of judicial independence and court curbing more pressing than ever. Although this latest wave of court curbing may appear to reflect a broadly “populist” hostility to judiciaries, I will show how court curbing is driven primarily by the interests of political elites and their frustration with independent courts. To this end, I use cross-national data to investigate how court curbing might be predicted in advance, testing hypotheses that court curbing will be prefigured by episodes of non-compliance with judicial decisions and proactive efforts by political elites to turn public opinion against the courts. I will also look closely at how anti-court discourse is employed to justify and legitimate court curbing in recent examples from Poland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Ultimately, these two lines of inquiry will come together to show how court curbing is motivated and shaped by elite interests.
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