Working in New Political Spaces: The Checkered History of Latin American Judicialization

Sandra Botero, Daniel M. Brinks, Ezequiel A. Gonzalez-Ocantos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The Introduction outlines the trajectory of the literature on judicialization in Latin America, and presents the core argument of the book. The book argues that the institutional and cultural changes that empowered courts and put them at the center of policy disputes, what the editors call the “judicialization superstructure,” often fall short of the promise of greater accountability and rights protection. First, courts sometimes fail to account for persistent state weakness, pushing policies ahead of the state and societal infrastructure needed to support them. Second, judicial corruption, nepotism, and other intra-institutional pathologies occasionally diminish the transformative potential of courts and prosecutors. Third, courts’ and activists’ inability to root change in robust structures of support leads to political and societal backlash that frustrates reform efforts. As a result, and in spite of some notable successes, judicialization in certain areas produces limited impact and is met with aggressive responses from conservative forces. Finally, there are instances when the expectations of the architects of judicialization have been met all too well, especially in terms of strengthening mechanisms of horizontal accountability, but due to the broader context in which these mechanisms operate, effective judicialization can do more harm than good
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Limits of Judicialization: From Progress to Backlash in Latin America
EditorsSandra Botero , Daniel M. Brinks , Ezequiel A. Gonzalez-Ocantos
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages38
ISBN (Print)978-1009093859
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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