Judicial Behavior on the Chilean Constitutional Tribunal

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 856-877, December 1, 2011

Posted: 14 Aug 2011 Last revised: 4 Feb 2012

See all articles by Royce Carroll

Royce Carroll

University of Essex - Department of Government

Lydia Brashear Tiede

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Date Written: July 5, 2011

Abstract

Research on judicial independence suggests that high courts can be designed to serve as external checks on political actors. However, independence from political influence does not necessarily imply incentives to use these powers. Chile’s Constitutional Tribunal, while possessing significant powers, has been characterized as generally deferential to political actors. Using rulings from the Tribunal from 1990-2010, we examine whether reforms that increased the number of judges appointed by politicians and expanded the Tribunal’s jurisdiction have contributed to a more assertive use of judicial review power. We find that the reforms have not produced an increased tendency to rule laws unconstitutional under abstract review (review of laws prior to their enactment) despite a slightly greater tendency for judges to individually rule in this direction. However, we also find that the new appointment structure has nevertheless increased the types of judges relatively more likely to assert this power. Specifically, after the reforms, judges appointed by elected actors were individually more likely to find laws unconstitutional than those appointed by the Supreme Court, especially on cases of concrete review of enacted laws. We also find that cases of abstract review brought by legislators have been especially associated with both unconstitutional outcomes and individual judicial votes for unconstitutionality.

Keywords: constitutional courts, judicial behavior

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Carroll, Royce and Tiede, Lydia Brashear, Judicial Behavior on the Chilean Constitutional Tribunal (July 5, 2011). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 856-877, December 1, 2011 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1905860

Royce Carroll

University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Lydia Brashear Tiede (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

4800 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States

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