How Judges Think in the Brazilian Supreme Court: Estimating Ideal Points and Identifying Dimensions
EconomiA 15 (2014) 275–293
19 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2018
Date Written: December 20, 2014
We use NOMINATE (Nominal Three Step Estimation) (Poole and Rosenthal, 1983, 1997) to estimate ideal pointsfor all Supreme Court Justices in Brazil from 2002 to 2012. Based on these estimated preferences we identify the nature of the two main dimensions along which disagreements tend to occur in this Court. These estimates correctly predict over 95% of the votes on constitutional review cases in each of the compositions of the Court which we analyze. The main contribution of the paper is to identify that the main dimension along which preferences align in the Brazilian Supreme Court is for and against the economic interest of the Executive. This is significantly different than the conservative-liberal polarization of the US Supreme Court. Our estimates show that along this dimension the composition of the Court has been clearly favorable to the Executive’s economic interests, providing the setting in which the dramatic transformation in institutions and policies that the country has undergone in last two decades could take place.
Keywords: Supreme Court; Ideal Points; Political Institutions; Law and Economics
JEL Classification: H5, H77, K10, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation