Benjamin G. Engst
Die Besetzung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts: Ein Spiegelbild gesellschaftlicher Präferenzen?

Politische Vierteljahresschrift, 2020: 61, issue 1, pp. 39-60

Which candidates do the German public want to be judges of the Federal Constitutional Court? Constitutional courts require public support. This support is also the result of the legitimacy of the politically elected judges. We argue that political actors are able to define the (1) judicial and (2) political–ideological leaning of the court through (non-)institutionalized selection criteria. Candidates possess features from both dimensions. Using a discrete choice experiment, we identify the features that are preferred by the public. We show the role of a respondent’s partisan leaning in evaluating his/her candidate and compare the “ideal judge” with currently serving judges and candidates in relation to the election of Stephan Harbarth. The findings expand our understanding of the legitimacy of the courts.