Research

Book Manuscript || Courts that matter: Judges, Litigants and the Politics of Rights Enforcement in Latin America

Over the last two decades, courts in Latin America and in the other developing democracies have become increasingly involved in the policy making process, and in social policy making in particular. High courts in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, India, Peru, South Africa and Costa Rica have issued rulings expanding socioeconomic rights, curbing executive excesses, and protecting the rights of indigenous and other minorities. Under what conditions can courts in young democracies produce political and social change? This project studies the actual results of new court-ordered or court-modified policies, and the novel oversight mechanisms that some high courts have recently deployed to monitor compliance with their structural rulings, such as follow-up committees, public hearings, information requests, and so on. I argue that judicial impact in structural cases – cases that deeply affect public policy in a particular area – depends on the ways in which legally empowered constituencies in civil society interact with these court-promoted oversight mechanisms. I develop this argument through comparative case studies of landmark environmental, health and social welfare rulings in Colombia and Argentina.

Research for this project was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. The dissertation on which my book is based won the 2016 Law and Society Award for the dissertation that best represents outstanding work in law and society research.

Courts and Politics

  • “Evolving Patterns of Judicial Activism in Brazil and Colombia” with Rodrigo Nunes.
  • Agents of neoliberalism? High courts and rights in Latin America. (Prepared for presentation at the Conference “Citizens, Constitutions and Democracy in Post-Neoliberal Latin America“)
  • Conceptualizing and Measuring Legal Cultures: Insights from a survey of Mexican Federal Judges. (with Karina Ansolabehere and Ezequiel Gonzalez Ocantos)
  • The Social and Institutional Bases of the Rule of Law. 2014 (with Daniel Brinks. in “Reflections on Uneven Democracies” )

Comparative Political Behavior
I am part of a collaborative project examining the effects of corruption accusations on voters’ choices and attitudes in Latin America. Copies of the following papers are available upon request:

Conceptualization and Measurement

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