The term judicial independence has a range of meanings and applications. It is variously employed in normative and descriptive ways; in absolute and relative terms; as a theoretical construct and a practical safeguard; in regard to judges individually and collectively; as an end in itself and a means to other ends; as a matter of hard law and soft norm; and in relation to the political branches of government, the media, the electorate, litigants, interest groups, and judges themselves. This article creates a structure within which to situate the judicial independence literature, to the end of positioning judicial independence as a useful, if polymorphous, organizing principle that delineates a foundational component of the judicial role.


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