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Institutional Determinants of the Judicialisation of Policy in Brazil and Mexico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2006

Political Science Department at CIDE, Mexico City New York University School of Law
Department of Political Science, University of São Paulo.


This article offers a comparative perspective on judicial involvement in policy change in Latin America during the last decade and a half. Drawing on the literature on new institutionalism and the judicialisation of politics, and on case studies from Latin America's two largest countries, we propose a comparative framework for analysing the judicialisation of policy in the region. On the basis of this framework, we argue that institutional structure is a primary determinant of patterns of the judicialisation of policy. In particular, institutional characteristics of the legal system affect the way political actors fight to achieve their policy objectives and the kinds of public justifications used to defend policy reform.

Research Article
2006 Cambridge University Press

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The authors would like to thank Rogerio Arantes, John Bailey, Rachel Bowen, Luciana Gross Cunha, Linn Hammergren, Diana Kapiszewski, Andrei Koerner, Gerald Mara, Andrea Pozas-Loyo, Arturo Valenzuela and the editors and reviewers at the Journal of Latin American Studies for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Portions of Matthew Taylor's research were made possible by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship and a post-doctoral fellowship from the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, for which he is grateful.