Claiming private rights compliment of a beneficial constitutional legal: The new example of gays for the Costa Rica

Bruce Meters. Wilson, Claiming individual rights compliment of a good constitutional legal: The latest example of gays for the Costa Rica, In the world Journal of Constitutional Law, Frequency 5, Point 2, , Pages 242–257,


In 1989, a newly composed Constitutional Judge (Sala IV) quickly became a very effective judge, ending more 160 many years of Costa Rican judicial inactivity. This new magistrates’ tips breathed new lease of life towards Structure, concluded official deference in order to chose authorities, and therefore turned Costa Rican political existence. On the other hand, the new Sala IV magistrates believed the brand new part out of guardians of constitutional legal rights, providing go up from what often is called a rights wave. The article falls out white into the abrupt advantages of your own forty-year-dated Constitutional document using an examination of the new institutional rules and you can methods lower than that the fresh Judge works, and it also explores the fresh success and you will downfalls of 1 of your state’s most marginalized communities for the seeking safeguards of its constitutional liberties regarding Legal.


For the 1999, Costa Ricans well known its Constitution’s fiftieth anniversary. 1 The fresh new value of Composition throughout these 50 ages are regularly split into a few collection of episodes, before and after the fresh new 1989 creation of a great constitutional chamber away from brand new Supreme Court (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV). dos In advance of 1989, the constitutionality out of lawmakers’ strategies is barely confronted, and you may political figures felt their “capacity to legislate is pure,” allowing them to routinely forget about constitutional limitations on their energies. 3 Although not, the fresh thorough individual and you will social legal rights terms of one’s Constitution was in fact rarely managed by the Best Judge. 4 Those things away from Sala IV magistrates features breathed new lease of life toward Structure and you may turned Costa Rican politics, 5 given that Sala IV has actually routinely read and you will positively felt like private legal rights states. It’s widely conformed you to definitely, given that 1989, Costa Rica has already established a judicial revolution- way more especially, an excellent “rights” revolution-that advised individuals and you will teams off nearly all business of area to turn to your Legal to possess redress. 6

Since the magistrates of your own Best Judge prior to now deferred to the well-known branches from bodies, they now become active guardians of the Constitution. As a whole Sala IV magistrate, Eduardo Sancho, put it: “It is important understand the Sala IV less a keen business designed to end up being during the service of professional part, but quite the reverse: to protect this new rights of people.” eight The newest magistrates have regularly and you will decisively ruled from inside the cases of individual rights says, seem to in favor of politically weakened and socially ines Sala IV conclusion into circumstances submitted by some of the most weakly structured, politically and you may socially marginalized members of Costa Rican society. In advance of doing so, it talks about the newest judicial organization structure before and after the latest development away from Sala IV to explain the sources of Court’s increased official activism and you can, specifically, new renewed benefit presumed because of the constitutional specifications as the the newest chamber was a student in process.

step one. Regarding judicial laziness in order to judicial activism

Into very first 160 years of freedom, Costa Rica’s Best Court behaved like many most other Latin american courts, running on the belief that methods of your preferred twigs of authorities have been constitutional unless of course these were egregiously and you can obviously if you don’t. 8 As with remaining portion of the region, Costa Rica’s constitutions included expense from rights that were mostly neglected and you may, more often, just “parchment barriers, inadequate up against governmental electricity.” nine For many years there clearly was considerable disagreement among the many branches away from regulators in regards to the judicial comment. It wasn’t up until 1938 that Ultimate Legal established the “judicial supremacy inside the constitutional matters.” 10 But, as in most of the remainder of Latin America, the fresh constitutional claims away from personal legal rights provided nothing cover against the caprices out-of governmental executives, especially for marginalized anybody. 11