Sovereignty, Substance, and Public Support for European Courts’ Human Rights Rulings


Is the public backlash against human rights rulings from European courts driven by substantive concerns over case outcomes, procedural concerns over sovereignty, or combinations thereof? We conducted preregistered survey experiments in Denmark, France, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom using three vignettes: a foreigner who faces extradition, a person fighting a fine for burning Qurans, and a home owner contesting eviction. Each vignette varies with respect to whether a European court disagrees with a national court (deference treatment) and whether an applicant wins a case (outcome treatment). We find little evidence that deference moves willingness to implement judgments or acceptance of court authority but ample evidence that case outcomes matter. Even nationalists and authoritarians are unmoved by European court decisions as long as they agree with the case outcome. These findings imply that nationalist opposition to European courts is more about content than the location of authority and that backlash to domestic and international courts may be driven by similar forces.

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License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative