IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article

The Effect of Judicial Independence on Courts: Evidence from the American States

  • Daniel Berkowitz
  • Karen Clay

This paper demonstrates that two initial conditions—having been settled by a country with a civil-law legal system (France, Spain, or Mexico) and membership in the Confederacy during the Civil War—have had lasting effects on state courts in the United States. We find that states initially settled by civil-law countries and states in the Confederacy granted less independence to their judiciary in 1970–90 and had lower-quality courts in 2001–3. Furthermore, judicial independence is strongly associated with court quality. To explain these findings, we hypothesize that civil law acted through legislator preferences regarding the balance of power between the legislature and the judiciary, with legislators in civil-law states preferring a more subordinate judiciary. The ability of civil-law legislators to act on these preferences was, however, affected by within-state political competition, which was much higher in northern states than in southern states after the Civil War.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 35 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
Pages: 399-440

in new window

Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:35:y:2006:p:399-440
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:35:y:2006:p:399-440. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.