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Public Support for the Rule of Law
journal contributionposted on 2022-03-01, 00:00 authored by Matthew GrovesMatthew Groves
It is often said that the rule of law is enshrined in the Constitution and that it is the cornerstone of our parliamentary democracy. When the High Court invokes the concept, it typically does so in the context of discussing the protection that the rule of law provides to the fundamental rights that we all enjoy to go about our everyday lives and seek to realize our goals. Yet, in Australia, we know virtually nothing about the extent to which the public supports the rule of law or the factors associated with support for the rule of law. Drawing on two recent surveys of representative samples of Australian adults, we provide evidence on the level of support for the rule of law and the factors that are correlated with it. We find that support for the rule of law in Australia is relatively high, when compared with the results of comparable studies in Europe and the United States. We find that the public’s confidence in public institutions, knowledge of the High Court and diffuse support for the High Court are all correlated with support for the rule of law and that of these factors, diffuse support for the High Court is the most important.