Benjamin G. Engst, Thomas Gschwend, Christoph Hönnige
Who should be selected to the highest courts? Evidence from Survey Experiments in France, Germany and the United States

ECPR General Conference, Innsbruck, August 22nd to August 26th, 2022

What are the characteristics that the public is looking for in judicial nominees to highest courts? To answer this question we employ choice–based conjoint survey experiments. Respondents are ask to choose from among hypothetical judicial nominees to the French Conseil Constitutionnel, the German Bundesverfassungsgericht, and the United States Supreme Court. Our findings show that the different political environments seem not to matter when respondents make choices. Instead, we find common patterns of which attributes the public is looking for in judicial nominees across the three countries. Respondents prefer legal experts over former politicians. Justices should not lean towards a party let alone an extreme party. Respondents rather choose a highly qualified justice than a justice in line with their political leaning. There seems to exist a normative image of an ”ideal” justices which is stable across the three democracies.