Judges as Invited Actors in the Political Arena: The Cases of Costa Rica and Guatemala

Elena Martínez Barahona

Abstract

The goal of this article is to broaden our knowledge of the high courts in Costa Rica and Guatemala by examining the degree to which these courts are used as “mechanisms of social accountability.” For this purpose, this study assesses changes in the number of judicial claims filed by individuals or social groups before the high courts to control the legality of government actions or to protect their own rights. I analyze whether the emergence of this “judicialization by the people” is a consequence of changes in institutional settings and/or a growing distrust in politicians, scenarios that turn the high courts into viable forums for the achievement of political results.

Keywords

High courts; supreme courts; judges; societal accountability; judicialization; Costa Rica; Guatemala

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