The Effect of Populism on American and Turkish Judiciaries


  • James Corl Le Moyne College
  • Mushin Yunus Sozen Le Moyne College



judiciary, populism, government, political theory


In this article, I study the relationship of populism and judicial independence. I argue that populism poses a threat against the latter. Specifically, I use Turkey and the United States as illustrative case studies. First, I explain what an independent judiciary looks like, and proceed to explain the importance of a judiciary in a democracy, defined as a mixed regime. Furthermore, I discuss the threats facing judiciaries in the face of rising populist movements in Turkey and the United States. In Turkey, judges seen as disloyal to President Erdogan are replaced with judges that will rule in favor of the administration. In the United States, up to 90% of judges are elected, which is problematic for reasons related to the election mechanism’s relationship with democracy. Furthermore, there is a history of pressuring the judicial branch to conform to the wishes of the executive branch in America, which will also be examined. Finally, I will relate these pressure tactics to the idea of judicial populism. This notion, which states that courts may alter their opinions to appease a populist executive, has had wide-ranging policy implications. I will examine some of these in the paper.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Mushin Yunus Sozen, Le Moyne College


References or Bibliography

Bermeo, Nancy. 2016. “On Democratic Backsliding.” Journal of Democracy 27 (1): 5–19.

Bomboy, Scott. 2016. “Surveys: Many Americans Know Little about the Supreme Court - National Constitution Center.” National Constitution Center – February 17, 2016., Henry, and Society For The Diffusion Of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain. 1846. Political Philosophy. London, C. Knight & Co.

Cole, Jonathan R. 2016. “The Lack of Civics Education Has Shaped the Election.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic. November 8, 2016.

Constitution of the Republic of Turkey. 1982.

Gorsuch, Neil M, Jane Nitze, and David Feder. 2019. A Republic, If You Can Keep It. New York: Crown Forum.

“Grand National Assembly | All about Turkey.” n.d. Accessed January 27, 2021.

Guzel, Ernes. 2019. “Turkey’s Judicial Reform Strategy Document.”

Haslett, Cheyenne, and Meridith McGraw. 2018. “After Rare Rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts, Trump Fires Back on Twitter.” ABC News. ABC News. November 22, 2018.

Heck, Jay. 2019. “Jay Heck: Don’t Overlook Wisconsin’s Critical Supreme Court Election.” December 7, 2019.

“Impeachment Trial of Justice Samuel CHASE, 1804-05.” U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial of Justice Samuel Chase, 1804-05, February 26, 2021.

Iannacci, Nicandro. 2019. “Marbury v. Madison: The Supreme Court Claims Its Power - National Constitution Center.” National Constitution Center – February 24, 2019.

“In His Own Words: The President’s Attacks on the Courts | Brennan Center for Justice.” 2020. February 14, 2020.

Intelligence Unit, Economist. 2020. “Democracy Index 2020.” The Economist.

International Commission of Jurists. 2019. “Turkey’s Judicial Reform Strategy and Judicial Independence.”

Jay, John, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Alan M Dershowitz. 2019. The Federalist Papers. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.

Jed Handelsman Shugerman. 2012. The People’s Courts : Pursuing Judicial Independence in America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Kanowitz, Stephanie. 2018. “Decline of Civics Education Means Students Less Prepared to Become Informed Citizens.” American Council of Trustees and Alumni. October 31, 2018.

Kelly, Amita. 2016. “McConnell: Blocking Supreme Court Nomination ‘about a Principle, Not a Person.’” March 16, 2016.

Keman, Hans. 2015. “Polyarchy | Political Science.” In Encyclopædia Britannica.

Kertscher, Tom. 2016. “PolitiFact - Donald Trump’s Racial Comments about Hispanic Judge in Trump University Case.” @Politifact. June 8, 2016.

Law JRank. n.d. “Federalist Papers - Federalist, No. 78, and the Power of the Judiciary.”

Miller, Fred. 2017. “Aristotle’s Political Theory (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).” 2017.

“OHCHR | Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.” 2019. 2019.

Peace and Justice, Platform for. 2018. “Turkish Criminal Peace Judgeships: An Analysis.”

Platform For Peace and Justice. 2018. “Turkish Criminal Peace Judgeships: A Comprehensive Analysis.”

PRESS, ASSOCIATED. 2020. “Candidates, Groups Spent Record $10M on Wisconsin Supreme Court Race.” July 17, 2020.

Publication. Autocracy Goes Viral. Varieties of Democracy Institute, 2020

Rappeport, Alan, and Charlie Savage. 2016. “Donald Trump Releases List of Possible Supreme Court Picks.” The New York Times, May 18, 2016, sec. U.S.

Repucci, Sarah. “From Crisis to Reform: A Call to Strengthen America's Battered Democracy.” Freedom House, 2021.

Sozen, Yunus. 2008. “Turkey between Tutelary Democracy and Electoral Authoritarianism.” Private View, no. 13: 78–84.

Sozen, Yunus, 2019. “Populist Peril to Democracy: The Sacralization and Singularization of Competitive Elections.” Political Studies Review 17 (3): 267–83.

Sozen, Yunus. 2019. “Competition in a Populist Authoritarian Regime: The June 2018 Dual Elections in Turkey.” South European Society and Politics 24 (3): 287–315.

SustainAtlanta. 2015. “Remembering the Time Andrew Jackson Decided to Ignore the Supreme Court in the Name of Georgia’s Right to Cherokee Land.” SustainAtlanta. April 3, 2015.

“Terminologies on Populism.” DEMOS, 2021.

“Turkey.” 2019. Freedom House. 2019.

“Turkey Declares ‘State of Emergency’ after Failed Coup.” 2016. July 21, 2016.

Welle (, Deutsche. n.d. “Turkey to Review over 10,000 Arrested Coup Suspects Linked to ByLock Mobile App | DW | 28.12.2017.” DW.COM. Accessed April 13, 2021.

“WJP Rule of Law Index.” 2020. 2020.



How to Cite

Corl, J., & Yunus Sozen, M. (2022). The Effect of Populism on American and Turkish Judiciaries. Journal of Student Research, 11(1).



Research Articles