David M. Grundmanns
Mobilizing the Public - The Importance of Mediators for Judicial Decision-Making

15th General Conference of the ECPR, (virtual conference), August 30th to September 03rd, 2021

Highest courts need to rely on external actors to enforce compliance with decision-making. Therefore, courts seek to mobilize the public to hold governments accountable. In doing so, courts become constrained in their action by the environment. This raises the question: How do external actors moderate judicial decision-making? To answer this question I design a formal model of judicial decision-making and political compliance, including the court and the governing majority as actors. The interaction between both actors is moderated by mediators who mobilize the public to impose costs. On the one hand, mobilized audiences can punish the government for non-compliance with decisions. On the other hand, non-compliance reveals the weakness of courts, which may damage their diffuse support by the public. At the same time, the mobilized public evaluates the policy preferences of the court and the governing majority. This dynamic influences the strategic behavior of the court: Depending on the strength of reputational concerns to the court, the justices make more or less sincere decisions. This has major implications for our understanding of how different courts use transparency surrounding decisions against political actors. Moreover, the model provides an explanation for why non-governmental actors pay the costs to approach the court; namely, to pursue their own agenda.