Claiming private rights using an effective constitutional judge: The fresh illustration of gays inside Costa Rica

Bruce Yards. Wilson, Stating private rights thanks to a constitutional judge: The instance of gays when you look at the Costa Rica, Global Log out of Constitutional Law, Regularity 5, Situation 2, , Profiles 242–257,


During the 1989, a newly written Constitutional Court (Sala IV) instantaneously turned into an incredibly active judge, end more than 160 numerous years of Costa Rican official inactivity. The newest magistrates’ measures breathed new lease of life for the Composition, concluded judicial deference to help you chose authorities, and therefore switched Costa Rican political lives. Additionally, this new Sala IV magistrates believed the brand new role off guardians regarding constitutional rights, offering rise to what is frequently referred to as a legal rights wave. This article falls out white to your sudden advantages of your forty-year-old Constitutional document through a study of brand new institutional legislation and you can actions below which the the fresh Legal works, plus it explores the newest successes and you can failures of one of state’s extremely marginalized teams inside seeking to defense of their constitutional rights regarding the Court.


Into the 1999, Costa Ricans well-known their Constitution’s fiftieth wedding. 1 Brand new advantages of the Composition on these 50 years is regularly divided into several collection of episodes, before and after the latest 1989 production of an effective constitutional chamber off new Ultimate Court (Sala Constitucional otherwise Sala IV). 2 In advance of 1989, the latest constitutionality out of lawmakers’ steps was scarcely confronted, and you may people in politics noticed its “capacity to legislate try absolute,” permitting them to routinely forget constitutional constraints on the energies. step three Yet not, this new extensive personal and you may public liberties arrangements of your own Constitution was indeed seldom managed from the Supreme Legal. 4 The actions of Sala IV magistrates has breathed new life for the Composition and turned Costa Rican politics, 5 due to the fact Sala IV keeps regularly read and you may definitely felt like personal legal rights claims. It’s commonly consented you to, since the 1989, Costa Rica has experienced a judicial revolution- a lot more particularly, a “rights” revolution-that advised anyone and you will teams regarding virtually every field away from area to turn to the Courtroom getting redress. 6

Since the magistrates of your Finest Court in earlier times deferred with the popular branches off bodies, they now behave as active guardians of your Structure. Overall Sala IV magistrate, Eduardo Sancho, place it: “It is necessary understand the latest Sala IV a lot less a keen establishment intended to end up being at service of one’s executive part, however, a little the reverse: to safeguard the brand new legal rights of people.” 7 The new magistrates possess frequently and you may decisively ruled from inside the instances of individual legal rights says, apparently in support of politically weak and socially ines Sala IV choices with the instances recorded of the probably the most weakly prepared, politically and socially marginalized members of Costa Rican area. Ahead of doing this, they talks about the latest official organization framework before and after the newest development out-of Sala IV to describe the latest origins of your Court’s heightened official activism and you can, specifically, new revived relevance thought of the constitutional specifications since the the newest chamber was a student in process.

1. From official laziness so you can judicial activism

To your very first 160 several years of versatility, Costa Rica’s Best Court behaved like many almost every other Latin american courts, running on the assumption that the methods of prominent branches from regulators were constitutional until they were egregiously and you will without a doubt or even. 8 Such as remainder of the part, Costa Rica’s constitutions incorporated costs from liberties which were mostly forgotten and you can, with greater regularity, merely “parchment traps, useless up against political energy.” nine For decades there can be significant argument one of the twigs of government in regards to the official remark. It wasn’t until 1938 your Best Judge centered the “official supremacy into the constitutional matters.” 10 However,, such as the majority of with the rest of Latin America, the brand new constitutional pledges from personal legal rights afforded little coverage up against the caprices of political executives, specifically for marginalized caribbeancupid some body. 11