With the ever-growing significance of international law both domestically and internationally, courts mediate much of the give and take between the international system and the national political arenas, thus acting in settings where global and local are mixed. Such a pivotal position, I argue, lends courts the ability to maximize a twofold utility, which is inextricably linked. First, on the international level, judicial institutions play an increasingly important role and form what is essentially a transnational epistemic community. Second, on the domestic level, courts capitalize on this pivotal position to become increasingly central in the decision-making process, forming alliances with other domestic players and thereby securing the implementation of judicial rulings. A case study of decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court concerning the security fence Israel built around the Occupied Territories is offered as an empirical test for the Court-Pivot Dual Utility Model that I present in this article.
udi sommer teaches in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University as an Israel Institute Visiting Professor and at Tel Aviv University as a tenured Senior Faculty Member in Political Science. His most recent book is Legal Path Dependence and the Long Arm of the Religious State (2016), and his work has appeared in publications such as Regulation & Governance, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, and the Law & Society Review, among others.