Department of Comparative Politics

Henrik Litleré Bentsen new research fellow at Department of Comparative Politics

Why justices dissent in the Norwegian Supreme Court and the potential impact of such dissents on the court’s development is the topic of Henrik Litleré Bentsen’s PhD project.

Henrik Litleré Bentsen is a new research fellow at the Department of Comparative Politics. Bentsen studies dissent in the Norwegian Supreme Court.

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Bentsen is generally interested in the Norwegian Supreme Court and the intersection of law and politics, both with respect to analyses of the demographic profile of Supreme Court justices, including their ideology, as well the topic seen within a broader societal context, for example the debate on the division of powers between the judiciary and the legislature in Norway. Bentsen published an op-ed on the latter topic in newspaper Bergens Tidende recently.

The PhD project «Dissens og rettsutvikling i Norges Høyesterett», funded by Demokrati og rettstat at the University of Bergen, builds on the theme of his 2012 master thesis «"Vår evne til å kompromisse" - Flernivåanalyse av årsakene til dissens i straffesaker i Norges Høyesterett fra 1996 til 2011» (2012). The thesis looks at causes of dissent in criminal cases in the Norwegian Supreme Court and found that ideological polarization among justices increases the chance of dissent, that law professors dissent more often han other Supreme Court justices, and that temporarily employed justices dissent less. The findings are presented and discussed in the article “Dissenser i Norges Høyesterett”, published in Tidsskrift for Samfunnsforskning this January.

Bentsen’s research interests include statistics and methods, and both in his master thesis and the published article he used multilevel analysis to analyze the voting of Supreme Court justices. In his doctoral study he plans to conduct additional multilevel analysis, network analysis and interviewing to increase our understanding of why justices dissent, and the potential consequences of the dissent for similar cases later on.

Bentsen also participates in a departmental project on justice behavior led by Professor Gunnar Grendstad. He is also engaged as the board secretary of the Norwegian Journal of Political Science. He will teach methods at the department, which he has also done earlier as the methods coordinator of the courses MET102 and SV100.