Once regarded as mere pawns of their regimes, courts in authoritarian states are now the subject of considerable attention within the field of comparative judicial politics. New research examines the ways in which law and courts are deployed as instruments of governance, how they structure state-society contention, and the circumstances in which courts are transformed into sites of active resistance. This new body of research constitutes an emergent field of inquiry, while simultaneously contributing to a number of related research agendas, including authoritarian durability and regime transition, human rights, transitional justice, law and development, and rule-of-law promotion. Moreover, this research offers important insights into the erosion of rights and liberties in “consolidated democracies.”


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