Dissent and the Regeneration of Trust at the German Constitutional Court

The purpose of this paper is to strengthen the connection between the normative ends and the empirical analysis within the realm of democratic research on courts. This paper argues in favor of dissenting opinions on normative grounds and sketches out a research design to give some empirical evidence whether this argument is also valid on empirical grounds. As for the normative perspective, arguments in favor of dissenting opinions usually have a ‘deliberative’ flavor in the sense that dissenting opinions strengthen the clarity and/or quality of the court’s decision-making. This paper takes a different route and picks up on a more ‘republican’ approach with the notion of ‘integration via conflict’. This paper is interested in the public perception of the court, especially during times of heavy public criticism that is often reflected by dissenting opinions. It will make use of a data set on public perception of the German Constitutional Court in the first fifty years since its enactment