Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

International Affairs

First Advisor

Joseph Jupille

Second Advisor

Lucy Chester

Third Advisor

Joshua Strayhorn

Abstract

The European Court of Justice as it stands today is is one of the most influential transnational judicial institutions. The court exercises an unusually expansive range of jurisdiction over the member states of the European Union, and has played a creative role in expanding its own competencies through the process of constitutionalization. The mechanisms through which the court embellishes its own abilities, especially its ability to supersede the law of its member states, is a point of concern when analyzing the court’s legitimacy and democratic deficit within the European Union. This study follows trends of public support for the European Court of Justice and aims to further discern which societal and political factors most affect support for the court. This paper examines the roles of variables such as awareness of the ECJ, trust in national governments, support for the grander European Union, and political composition along the traditional Left/Right spectrum and quantitatively illustrates the relationship these variables maintain with trust in the European Court of Justice. The results hold that a positive relationship exists between awareness of the court and support for the ECJ, while no relationship is found between the remaining three variables. These results suggest that the European Court of Justice is becoming less of an obscurity in the lives of everyday European citizens, and that its legitimacy is increasingly differentiated from that of national governments or of the European Union as a whole.

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