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The Politics of Court Budgeting in the States: Is Judicial Independence Threatened by the Budgetary Process?

James W. Douglas and Roger E. Hartley
Public Administration Review
Vol. 63, No. 4 (Jul. - Aug., 2003), pp. 441-454
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/977400
Page Count: 14
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The Politics of Court Budgeting in the States: Is Judicial Independence Threatened by the Budgetary Process?
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Abstract

Judicial independence in American politics has been hailed as a means of preserving individual liberty and minority rights against the actions of the majoritarian branches of government. Recently, however, legal professionals and scholars of the courts have begun to question the magnitude of judicial independence, suggesting that budgeting and finance issues pose a threat to judicial independence. This article explores whether state judiciaries are being threatened on this front by soliciting the perceptions of key state officials. Using surveys of court administrators, executive budget officers, and legislative budget officers in the states, we examine three aspects of the politics of judicial budgeting: competing for scarce resources, interbranch competition, and pressure to raise revenues. The survey responses suggest that, in a substantial number of states, judicial independence has, at times, been threatened by interbranch competition and pressures to raise revenues.

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