Claiming individual liberties courtesy an effective constitutional legal: The latest illustration of gays inside Costa Rica

Claiming individual liberties courtesy an effective constitutional legal: The latest illustration of gays inside Costa Rica

Bruce Meters. Wilson, Saying individual rights as a result of an effective constitutional legal: This new example of gays when you look at the Costa Rica, All over the world Journal off Constitutional Law, Frequency 5, Issue 2, , Pages 242–257,


From inside the 1989, a recently authored Constitutional Judge (Sala IV) instantaneously became an incredibly active judge, finish over 160 many years of Costa Rican official inactivity. The new magistrates’ procedures breathed new lease of life with the Composition, concluded judicial deference to help you select officials, and therefore transformed Costa Rican governmental lifetime. Concurrently, the fresh Sala IV magistrates thought the new role regarding guardians of constitutional liberties, providing rise about what is commonly described as a liberties wave. This article falls out light into abrupt relevance of your own forty-year-old Constitutional document thanks to an examination of the newest organization guidelines and measures around that your the Courtroom works, therefore explores the brand new accomplishments and you will failures of a single of your own country’s really marginalized teams inside the looking to cover of its constitutional rights from the Judge.


In 1999, Costa Ricans recognized their Constitution’s fiftieth anniversary. step one The newest value of your own Constitution on these fifty ages was on a regular basis divided into a couple distinct symptoms, both before and after the newest 1989 creation of an effective constitutional chamber out-of the newest Supreme Judge (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV). dos Ahead of 1989, the constitutionality out-of lawmakers’ tips was barely challenged, and you may political leaders noticed their “capacity to legislate is natural,” allowing them to consistently forget about constitutional constraints to their vitality. step three not, the latest thorough individual and you will public liberties specifications of one’s Constitution was indeed rarely managed of the Finest Legal. 4 What of Sala IV magistrates features breathed new life into Structure and turned Costa Rican politics, 5 since the Sala IV have routinely read and you can favorably decided private liberties states. It’s widely arranged one, given that 1989, Costa Rica has experienced a judicial revolution- way more especially, a good “rights” revolution-who’s got recommended some body and you may communities away from nearly all market from neighborhood to show to your Courtroom to possess redress. 6

As magistrates of one’s Best Court previously deferred for the prominent twigs off regulators, it today behave as energetic guardians of the Constitution. In general Sala IV magistrate, Eduardo Sancho, put it: “It is important understand the Sala IV much less a keen organization designed to feel during the provider of the manager part, however, slightly the reverse: to protect new rights of individuals.” seven Brand new magistrates possess on a regular basis and you will decisively governed inside cases of personal rights claims, appear to in favor of politically weak and you can socially ines Sala IV conclusion with the cases filed of the several of the most weakly structured, politically and you may socially marginalized members of Costa Rican society. In advance of performing this, it discusses the fresh judicial organization construction both before and after the new creation out of Sala IV to spell it out new roots of your Court’s increased official activism and you will, in particular, the newest revived benefits believed by constitutional specifications because this new chamber was in procedure.

step one. Away from official laziness to help you judicial activism

To the first 160 several years of versatility, Costa Rica’s Finest Legal behaved like many almost every other Latin american process of law, operating on the assumption that the measures of your prominent twigs from regulators have been constitutional unless of course these were egregiously and you may however if you don’t. 8 As in remaining region, Costa Rica’s constitutions incorporated expense of legal rights that were mostly forgotten and you may, with greater regularity, simply “parchment traps, ineffective up against governmental fuel.” 9 For a long time you will find considerable dispute one of many branches out of government regarding official remark. It was not up to 1938 the Finest Legal built its “official supremacy within the constitutional things.” 10 But, as with much of the remainder of Latin The usa, this new constitutional promises away from individual rights afforded absolutely nothing coverage from the caprices of political professionals, particularly for marginalized some one. eleven