Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Publius: The Journal of Federalism


With ever-increasing gridlock and polarization at the national level, many new policy changes in the U.S. have come at the state level, including legislation that takes the form of democratic backsliding by restricting the right to vote, limiting free speech and expression, and gerrymandering state and federal legislative districts. A key component missing from scholarly discussion of federalism and the erosion of electoral democratic norms is the effect of federalism on the structure of institutions within the states, particularly on judicial independence. In this article, I examine the relationship between measures of democracy and introduction of court-curbing legislation in the states. Focusing on instances of court-packing, changing the methods of selection and retention; and impeachment, I show that heightened attacks on judicial independence are related to other types of democratic backsliding.

Funding Source

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation Law and Social Science Program.



This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in Publius: The Journal of Federalism, pjae009,

Available for download on Wednesday, December 24, 2025