Journal of Latin American Studies

Institutional Determinants of the Judicialisation of Policy in Brazil and Mexico 1

a1 Political Science Department at CIDE, Mexico City
a2 New York University School of Law
a3 Department of Political Science, University of São Paulo.

Article author query
rios-figueroa j   [Google Scholar] 
taylor mm   [Google Scholar] 


This article offers a comparative perspective on judicial involvement in policy change in Latin America during the last decade and a half. Drawing on the literature on new institutionalism and the judicialisation of politics, and on case studies from Latin America's two largest countries, we propose a comparative framework for analysing the judicialisation of policy in the region. On the basis of this framework, we argue that institutional structure is a primary determinant of patterns of the judicialisation of policy. In particular, institutional characteristics of the legal system affect the way political actors fight to achieve their policy objectives and the kinds of public justifications used to defend policy reform.

(Published Online October 24 2006)


1 The authors would like to thank Rogerio Arantes, John Bailey, Rachel Bowen, Luciana Gross Cunha, Linn Hammergren, Diana Kapiszewski, Andrei Koerner, Gerald Mara, Andrea Pozas-Loyo, Arturo Valenzuela and the editors and reviewers at the Journal of Latin American Studies for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Portions of Matthew Taylor's research were made possible by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship and a post-doctoral fellowship from the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, for which he is grateful.