Saying individual legal rights owing to an excellent constitutional courtroom: The latest exemplory instance of gays when you look at the Costa Rica

Bruce Meters. Wilson, Claiming personal liberties by way of a constitutional court: Brand new illustration of gays inside the Costa Rica, Around the world Record out-of Constitutional Law, Volume 5, Point 2, , Profiles 242–257,


During the 1989, a newly authored Constitutional Legal (Sala IV) instantly turned an extremely effective legal, end over 160 several years of Costa Rican judicial inactivity. The fresh new magistrates’ measures breathed new way life to your Constitution, concluded official deference so you’re able to chose officials, and consequently turned Costa Rican political lifetime. While doing so, new Sala IV magistrates presumed the latest role of guardians away from constitutional legal rights, providing go up about what is frequently called a legal rights wave. This article falls out white to the abrupt relevance of one’s 40-year-dated Constitutional file courtesy an examination of the latest institutional legislation and you will steps significantly less than that the the fresh new Court works, and it also examines new success and disappointments of just one of the country’s most marginalized groups in looking to security of its constitutional rights regarding the Legal.


Into the 1999, Costa Ricans famous its Constitution’s fiftieth anniversary. step one The significance of your Structure on these fifty years is regularly put into a couple of distinct episodes, pre and post the latest 1989 creation of an excellent constitutional chamber out of brand new Finest Legal (Sala Constitucional otherwise Sala IV). dos Prior to 1989, the fresh constitutionality out-of lawmakers’ tips try barely confronted, and you can political leaders noticed their “power to legislate try natural,” permitting them to regularly forget constitutional limits on their vitality. 3 However, the fresh new extensive private and you can societal rights provisions of one’s Composition was rarely handled of the Supreme Legal. 4 Those things regarding Sala IV magistrates has actually breathed new life on the Structure and turned Costa Rican politics, 5 since the Sala IV possess regularly read and you can favorably felt like personal legal rights claims. It’s generally arranged that, as the 1989, Costa Rica has had an official revolution- far more particularly, a great “rights” revolution-who’s advised individuals and you will organizations from just about any market of neighborhood to turn airg into Court to have redress. six

Due to the fact magistrates of the Ultimate Courtroom in past times deferred towards the well-known branches regarding bodies, it today work as active guardians of your Composition. All together Sala IV magistrate, Eduardo Sancho, place it: “It’s important knowing the fresh new Sala IV never as an enthusiastic business designed to feel on solution of one’s executive branch, however, quite the reverse: to safeguard the latest legal rights men and women.” eight The newest magistrates has actually frequently and decisively ruled inside instances of individual rights says, appear to in support of politically weak and you will socially ines Sala IV choices for the cases recorded by several of the most weakly prepared, politically and you can socially marginalized people in Costa Rican area. Ahead of performing this, they covers the fresh official organization build before and after this new development regarding Sala IV to spell it out the new roots of one’s Court’s heightened judicial activism and you may, particularly, the restored benefit believed by constitutional terms given that new chamber was at process.

step one. Out of judicial laziness so you can official activism

Into the earliest 160 many years of liberty, Costa Rica’s Supreme Courtroom behaved like many other Latin-american courts, running on the assumption that procedures of your own common twigs out of regulators was indeed constitutional until they were egregiously and you will of course if you don’t. 8 Like in rest of the region, Costa Rica’s constitutions incorporated costs of liberties that have been mostly forgotten and you may, more frequently, just “parchment barriers, useless facing political energy.” 9 For decades there’s significant conflict among the twigs off government in regards to the judicial review. It wasn’t up until 1938 that the Supreme Legal dependent its “judicial supremacy inside the constitutional things.” ten But, as in most of the rest of Latin The usa, the fresh constitutional promises from individual legal rights provided nothing cover up against the caprices out-of governmental managers, especially for marginalized some one. eleven