Structure Matters: The Impact of Court Structure on the Indian and U.S. Supreme Courts (Am. J. of Comp. Law)

Structure Matters: The Impact of Court Structure on the Indian and U.S. Supreme Courts (Am. J. of Comp. Law)

American Journal of Comparative Law, 20 May 2012

The United States Supreme Court sits as a unified bench of nine justices. The Indian Supreme Court sits in panels, and can have up to thirty-one judges. This article uses the divergent structures of the U.S. and Indian Supreme Courts to explore how specific court structures are adopted to promote different values or understandings of what a supreme court should be. It analyzes how structure impacts: (1) access to these courts; (2) the cohesiveness of the doctrine they produce; (3) inter-judge relations; and (4) perceptions about these courts, including perceived politicization. It argues a comparative analysis of court structure can challenge common assumptions about the ideal role of a court, as well as aid in judicial institutional design and reform. Such an analysis helps make explicit how law is permeated by the structure of the courts that interpret it.