Skip to content

Justin Fox & Matthew C. Stephenson, Judicial Review as a Response to Political Posturing, 105 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 397 (2011).

Abstract: We use an agency model to analyze the impact of judicial review on the incentives of elected leaders to “posture” by enacting bold but ill-advised policies. We find that judicial review may exacerbate posturing by rescuing leaders from the consequences of unwise policies, but may also discourage posturing by alerting voters to unjustified government action. We further find that judges will defer to the decision of elected leaders unless posturing is sufficiently likely. We then show how judicial review affects voter welfare, both through its effect on policy choice and through its effect on the efficacy of the electoral process in selecting leaders. We also analyze how the desirability of judicial review is affected by characteristics of the leaders and the judges.