Court Curbing and Populist Framing

In recent years, governments associated with populist politics have undertaken bold and systematic court-curbing projects. This paper advances three interrelated claims about these events: 1) the success of court-curbing projects depends on discursive framing—that is, the way in which judicial power is problematised and how attacks on judicial power are rationalised; 2) populist discourse supplies a powerful frame for court-curbing policies; and 3) court-curbing frames succeed to the extent that they resonate with pre-existing beliefs and values relating to courts and judges. In short, the rhetorical affordances of populism help to explain the apparent connection between populist governments and attacks on judicial power and judicial independence.