Stating individual legal rights as a result of a constitutional court: The latest instance of gays during the Costa Rica

Bruce Meters. Wilson, Claiming individual liberties through a good constitutional legal: The brand new illustration of gays within the Costa Rica, All over the world Diary from Constitutional Legislation, Regularity 5, Procedure 2, , Pages 242–257,


For the 1989, a recently created Constitutional Courtroom (Sala IV) instantly turned into an extremely active courtroom, finish more than 160 numerous years of Costa Rican judicial laziness. The fresh magistrates’ steps breathed new lease of life towards Composition, concluded judicial deference to decided authorities, and consequently turned Costa Rican political lifetime. Simultaneously, brand new Sala IV magistrates assumed the latest role regarding guardians out-of constitutional rights, offering rise as to the is often referred to as a liberties revolution. The content sheds light to your abrupt advantages of the forty-year-old Constitutional document due to a study of the brand new organization rules and you can methods below which the the brand new Courtroom operates, and it also explores the latest accomplishments and you will failures of a single of your country’s extremely marginalized groups from inside the looking to safeguards of the constitutional liberties on the Judge.


When you look at the 1999, Costa Ricans recognized the Constitution’s fiftieth anniversary. 1 New value of one’s Constitution throughout these 50 age are on a regular basis divided in to two line of periods, before and after the latest 1989 production of a good constitutional chamber away from the latest Supreme Judge (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV). 2 Prior to 1989, the fresh constitutionality regarding lawmakers’ procedures are barely confronted, and people in politics sensed their “capability to legislate is sheer,” letting them regularly disregard constitutional constraints on the powers. step 3 Yet not, the latest comprehensive private and societal liberties terms of one’s Constitution were seldom handled because of the Ultimate Legal. cuatro The actions away from Sala IV magistrates possess breathed new life on the Structure and you can transformed Costa Rican politics, 5 because Sala IV enjoys consistently read and you can absolutely decided individual legal rights claims. It is extensively conformed you to, since 1989, Costa Rica has already established an official trend- a lot more especially, good “rights” revolution-having recommended anybody and you will organizations out of virtually every business from society to make to your Courtroom getting redress. 6

Because magistrates of one’s Best Legal in earlier times deferred on preferred twigs from bodies, it now act as productive guardians of the Structure. As one Sala IV magistrate, Eduardo Sancho, place it: “It’s important understand the new Sala IV less an enthusiastic business created to become from the service of manager branch, however, a bit the reverse: to protect the fresh legal rights of individuals.” seven The magistrates has regularly and you will decisively ruled in the cases of private legal rights claims, seem to in favor of politically poor and you may socially ines Sala IV choices into the instances recorded by a few of the most weakly arranged, politically and you may socially marginalized members of Costa Rican people. Just before performing this, it talks about brand new official institutional construction pre and post this new manufacturing off Sala IV to spell it out brand new sources of the Court’s increased official activism and you may, particularly, brand new restored benefits presumed by constitutional specifications once the the fresh new chamber was at procedure.

1. From official laziness so you’re able to official activism

Towards the very first 160 years of freedom, Costa Rica’s Supreme Legal behaved like other almost every other Latin-american process of law, operating on the belief your actions of your preferred branches out-of government was indeed constitutional unless of course these were egregiously and you may naturally otherwise. 8 Like in remaining portion of the area, Costa Rica’s constitutions integrated debts out of liberties that were largely overlooked and you will, more often, simply “parchment barriers, ineffective up against governmental fuel.” 9 For decades there was considerable argument one of many branches away from regulators concerning official opinion. It wasn’t until 1938 your Supreme Legal established their “official supremacy in the constitutional issues.” 10 However,, such as most of with the rest of Latin The usa, the newest constitutional promises from private legal rights provided absolutely nothing protection up against the caprices from governmental executives, particularly for marginalized anyone. eleven

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