To what extent do courts in Latin America protect individual rights and limit governments? This volume answers these fundamental questions by bringing together today's leading scholars of judicial politics. Drawing on examples from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica and Bolivia, the authors demonstrate that there is widespread variation in the performance of Latin America's constitutional courts. In accounting for this variation, the contributors push forward ongoing debates about what motivates judges; whether institutions, partisan politics and public support shape inter-branch relations; and the importance of judicial attitudes and legal culture. The authors deploy a range of methods, including qualitative case studies, paired country comparisons, statistical analysis and game theory.
Gretchen Helmke is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2000. She has received fellowships from the Weatherhead Center for International and Area Studies at Harvard University, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. She has published two books: Courts Under Constraints: Judges, Generals, and Presidents in Argentina (2005) and Informal Institutions and Democracy: Lessons from Latin America (co-edited with Steven Levitsky, 2006). She has also published numerous articles in leading political science journals on comparative political institutions, the rule of law and Latin American politics. Julio Rios-Figueroa is Assistant Professor in the Division of Political Studies at CIDE in Mexico City. He received his Ph.D. from New York University (NYU) in 2006. He was a Hauser Research Scholar at the NYU School of Law during the academic year of 2006-7. He has published articles on the rule of law, Latin American politics and the emergence and performance of judicial institutions in journals such as Comparative Politics, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Comparative Political Studies and Latin American Politics and Society. He is currently working on a book project on the judicial construction of due process rights in Latin America.