Much Ado about Nothing? Claims about political appointment to the Norwegian Supreme Court – and what to do – and not to do – about it
- Side: 365-371
- Publisert på Idunn: 2013-07-01
Should recent reports of political appointments of Norwegian Supreme Court judges give rise to concern and reform of the process, e.g. toward more explicitly politicized hearings or vetting of nominees?1Professor of Philosophy, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. I am grateful for comments by Gunnar Grendstad and Geir Ulfstein. This article was written under the auspices of MultiRights – an ERC Advanced Grant on the Legitimacy of Multi-Level Human Rights Judiciary – www.MultiRights.net; and PluriCourts, a Research Council of Norway Centre of Excellence – www.PluriCourts.net.2Gunnar Grendstad, et al., «Revealed preferences of Norwegian Supreme Court Justices», Tidsskrift for rettsvitenskap 2010: 73–101
Renewed attention to the patterns of political and ideological leanings among these judges should be welcome, and some observed patterns seem plausible. Insofar as such patterns can be identified, it may seem misplaced to criticize Grendstad et al. for overlooking the differences in procedures for selecting judges and the different judicial cultures, e.g. between the US and Norway3Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, «Debatt – andre premiss og anna resultat – refleksjoner kring politikk, Høgsterett og dissensar», 125 Tidsskrift for rettsvitenskap 2012: 168–205.. If there are statistically significant correlations, the appropriate response may well be to explore possible mechanisms – different from those in full view in the US.
But the recent research findings that allege a politicized appointment process can be improved in at least two ways. I shall argue in section 1 that the evidence Grendstad et al. present for such ‘political’ appointments is weak. Section 2 suggests that more dimensions than political right-left merit more attention partly due to the internationalization of the judiciary. In conclusion, I suggest that these comments should not diminish but rather increase the need for further research on the political and other ideological bias of the Norwegian Supreme Court – as of other parts of the domestic, regional and international judiciary. The appointment process and voting patterns of Supreme Court justices merit more public attention, e.g. as argued by present Chief Justice Schei4Tore Schei, «Har høyesterett en politisk funksjon?», 50 Lov og rett 2011: 319–335, 335. – though not for the reasons claimed by Grendstad et al.