How to place non-majoritarian institutions and political actors in a common policy space: Spatial modeling of court–executive interactions

Find the working paper here. (Version: 12/2021)

How can we estimate positions of non-majoritarian institutions in a common policy space? To answer this question, we take highest courts as examples of powerful non-majoritarian institutions and develop a new scaling approach to estimate their position in a common policy space with other political actors. In contrast to previous research, our approach neither relies on individual votes of justices nor assumes that justices “inherit” positions from political actors who nominated them. Instead, for each court decision, we use the positions of political actors expressed in written statements as well as the courts’ decision outcome to estimate comparable policy positions. In two applications, we position the German Federal Constitutional Court with different German governments and the European Court of Justice with different European governments in common policy spaces and validate them. Finally, we show how our common policy scores can be used to study court–executive relations and inter-institutional interactions.

Conditional accept at Journal of Politics.

Together with
David M. Grundmanns (University of Mannheim)
Thomas Gschwend (University of Mannheim)