a1 Tulane University and University of South Carolina
a2 University of South Carolina
a3 University of South Carolina
a4 University of South Carolina
Why do we witness variation in the level of judicial attention to rights litigation across countries and over time? Traditional explanations emphasize the constitutional recognition of rights, judicial leadership, and the development in society of a sophisticated “support structure for legal mobilization,” as key covariates of these phenomena. Yet, there is a dearth of quantitative empirical analyses that evaluate these explanations comparatively and actually test their relative influence on trends of rights litigation and protection. Perhaps the most important lacuna in this regard is an assessment of the influence of institutional conditions and modifications in bringing about or facilitating the transformation of the rights scene. To contribute to closing this gap, this article empirically assesses the short and long term impacts of ideology, support structure, and institutional protection on changes in the presence of rights litigation in the dockets of the High Courts of several democracies with Common Law systems. To this purpose, we perform time-series analyses on data from the High Courts Judicial Database and the Spaeth U.S. Supreme Court Database. Our analyses indicate that once one properly models temporal effects, increasing support structures do not influence increases in rights litigation. Rather, specific institutional changes and ideological influences play a significant role in the High Courts’ attention to individual rights.
(Online publication May 13 2011)
Raul Sanchez Urribarri is a visiting assistant professor of political science at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118.
Susanne Schorpp is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
Kirk A. Randazzo is an associate professor of political science at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
Donald R. Songer is the Olin D. Johnston professor of political science at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.