Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Political Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Modern liberal democracies typically depend on courts with the power of constitutional review to ensure that elected officials do not breach their constitutional obligations. With neither the power of the purse nor the sword, the potency of this review is not guaranteed. Courts must rely on government officials for the implementation of judicial rulings. The ability of a court to ensure that elected officials faithfully implement decisions can depend critically on the public's ability to observe elected officials' responses to judicial decisions. In this dissertation, I argue that courts strategically use key judicial procedures to increase the likelihood of public awareness of rulings. Drawing from the comparative judicial politics literature on separation of powers, public awareness, and noncompliance, I develop a formal model of one such procedure available to many of the world's constitutional courts, public oral hearings. The model provides empirical implications for when a court will hold public hearings and how hearings affect case disposition. I then test these implications using data on cases and the use of hearings at the German Federal Constitutional Court. The results of this analysis support my argument that courts use hearings as an institutional tool to address potential noncompliance. An empirical extension of the theory to the timing of judicial decisions at the German court provides further support for my argument.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Matthew J. Gabel

Committee Members

Lee Epstein, John W. Patty, Sunita Parikh, James Spriggs


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