Saying individual rights through an excellent constitutional courtroom: The illustration of gays inside Costa Rica

Bruce Yards. Wilson, Saying individual legal rights by way of a good constitutional legal: The newest example of gays inside the Costa Rica, International Log out-of Constitutional Law, Volume 5, Matter dos, , Profiles 242–257,


Into the 1989, a newly created Constitutional Judge (Sala IV) instantaneously became a highly active court, stop more than 160 many years of Costa Rican official laziness. The fresh magistrates‘ actions breathed new lease of life on the Composition, concluded judicial deference in order to elected authorities, and consequently turned Costa Rican political life. Concurrently, this new Sala IV magistrates presumed the brand new role off guardians off constitutional rights, providing rise about what can be also known as a rights trend. This article sheds light into abrupt relevance of 40-year-old Constitutional file through a study of the brand new institutional guidelines and you will tips significantly less than that the Courtroom operates, plus it explores the successes and you can disappointments of one of one’s state’s extremely marginalized organizations in seeking to protection of their constitutional legal rights on the Judge.


For the 1999, Costa Ricans prominent its Constitution’s fiftieth wedding. 1 The fresh new importance of your own Composition during these fifty age is frequently divided in to a few distinctive line of periods, before and after the fresh new 1989 production of a good constitutional chamber of the newest Ultimate Courtroom (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV). 2 Ahead of 1989, the new constitutionality out of lawmakers‘ methods is actually scarcely challenged, and you can politicians thought the “capability to legislate is sheer,” permitting them to routinely ignore constitutional constraints on their energies. step three However, the latest thorough private and you can social legal rights terms of Constitution was basically hardly ever treated by the Ultimate Court. 4 Those things off Sala IV magistrates possess breathed new way life on the Composition and switched Costa Rican politics, 5 while the Sala IV features regularly read and you will positively felt like individual rights states. It is generally decided one to, since 1989, Costa Rica has received a judicial wave- more particularly, an effective “rights” revolution-that encouraged some body and you may groups off just about any field away from people to show to your Legal having redress. 6

Once the magistrates of your Ultimate Judge in past times deferred with the popular branches of bodies, it now act as active guardians of Composition. All together Sala IV magistrate, Eduardo Sancho, put it: “It is necessary to understand this new Sala IV far less a keen institution designed to feel at the provider of your executive department, however, some the reverse: to guard the newest liberties men and women.” eight The brand new magistrates keeps daily and you will decisively influenced in cases of individual legal rights states, seem to and only politically weak and you can socially ines Sala IV choices towards cases recorded of the some of the most weakly planned, politically and you may socially marginalized members of Costa Rican area. Just before this, it talks about new judicial organization construction before and after the newest production of Sala IV to explain the brand new root of the Court’s increased judicial activism and you may, in particular, the brand new renewed importance assumed from the constitutional arrangements while the the newest chamber was in operation.

step 1. Off judicial laziness so you’re able to judicial activism

Into very first 160 numerous years of freedom, Costa Rica’s Supreme Judge behaved like other most other Latin-american process of law, operating on the belief that actions of one’s common branches out of government were constitutional unless they certainly were egregiously and definitely if not. 8 As with remaining area, Costa Rica’s constitutions included expense out of rights that were largely forgotten and you may, with greater regularity, simply “parchment barriers, useless against political strength.” nine For decades there clearly was considerable disagreement among branches off government about the official review. It was not up to 1938 your Finest Court established their “official supremacy from inside the constitutional things.” 10 However,, as with a lot of with the rest of Latin The united states, the fresh constitutional claims out of individual legal rights afforded nothing safeguards from the caprices out-of political executives, specifically for marginalized somebody. 11