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The Global Expansion of Judicial Power

Hirschl, Ran, The Global Expansion of Judicial Power (March 1, 2023). Oxford Handbook of Comparative Judicial Behavior (Lee Epstein, Gunnar Grendstad, Urška Šadl, and Keren Weinshall, eds., Oxford University Press, 2023), Available at SSRN: or

“The global expansion of judicial power is one of the most significant developments in late-20th and early-21st century government. Scholars have identified this trend as the “judicialization of politics”, “governing with judges”, and as “juristocracy”, conceptualizing judges as “legislators in robes”, and suggesting that our time may well be defined as the “Judicial Era”. In this chapter (forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Judicial Behavior), I focus on three key aspects of this trend: (i) the dramatic increase in the number and types of national and transnational courts and tribunals; (ii) the ever-growing significance of courts and judges in determining political and policy-making outcomes worldwide; and (iii) criticism of, resistance to, and occasional backlash against expanded judicial power. I conclude by suggesting that from epistemological and methodological standpoints, the global expansion of judicial power provides new opportunities to develop and test arguments concerning judicial behavior across time and place. The rise of law, courts, and judges as a critical force in comparative and world politics further suggests that politics and law are becoming ever-more intertwined domains, affecting each other in intricate ways that are seldom acknowledged by doctrinal analyses. Consequently, traditional disciplinary boundaries between the study of law and politics are increasingly difficult to sustain.”

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