Multidimensional judicial independence
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Why do courts appear to be independent in some legal areas and not others? How should scholars assess judicial independence for courts of special jurisdiction, including administrative courts, economic courts, and military courts? An independent judiciary plays a critical role in autocracies and democracies; however, identifying independence has proven notoriously challenging. In this project I seek an explanation for the ambiguity by challenging existing measurement strategies empirically, and supplementing the conclusions with fieldwork conducted in Argentina. Unlike the dominant strategies for operationalization that rely on the assumption that judicial independence is unidimensional, I suggest a new approach which may be characterized as disaggregated and multidimensional. If we are to identify judicial independence we must consider that independence may not occur across all legal issue areas simultaneously. My theoretical framework and empirical analyses push beyond the conceptualization and operationalization of unidimensional judicial independence in the extant literature in several ways. The framework disaggregates judicial independence rather than treating it as a unified phenomenon. I break apart the thick conceptualization - which demands insularity, impartiality, and empowerment of the court across all legal issue areas - to consider judicial independence in three dimensions: social de facto independence, economic de facto independence, and political de facto independence. I use a Bayesian latent variable technique to estimate continuous measures of independence across 191 countries from 1980-2013. I then use the multidimensional measure in a replication study and I address a novel research question. In a cross-national analysis I test the efficacy of judicial nominating institutions on each dimension of judicial independence. This large-N study is supplemented with fieldwork conducted in Argentina. The qualitative component, elite interviews, provides data to process trace the causal mechanism. Both theoretically and methodologically, this project contributes to the burgeoning literature on judicial politics and institutions in comparative politics scholarship.