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High Courts and Economic Governance in Argentina and Brazil by Diana (University of California, Irvine) Kapiszewski

High Courts and Economic Governance in Argentina and Brazil



High Courts and Economic Governance in Argentina and Brazil by Diana (University of California, Irvine) Kapiszewski

High Courts and Economic Governance in Argentina and Brazil analyzes how high courts and elected leaders in Latin America interacted over neoliberal restructuring, one of the most significant socioeconomic transformations in recent decades. Courts face a critical choice when deciding cases concerning national economic policy, weighing rule of law concerns against economic imperatives. Elected leaders confront equally difficult dilemmas when courts issue decisions challenging their actions. Based on extensive fieldwork in Argentina and Brazil, this study identifies striking variation in inter-branch interactions between the two countries. In Argentina, while the high court often defers to politicians in the economic realm, inter-branch relations are punctuated by tense bouts of conflict. The Brazilian high court and elected officials, by contrast, routinely accommodate one another in their decisions about economic policy. Diana Kapiszewski argues that the two high courts' contrasting characters - political in Argentina and statesman-like in Brazil - shape their decisions on controversial cases and condition how elected leaders respond to their rulings, channeling inter-branch interactions into persistent patterns.


'This is a wonderful book - meticulously crafted, with close attention to methods and concept formation, presenting a nuanced and persuasive argument. Kapiszewski's analysis places the strategic calculus of courts within their historical and institutional contexts, ultimately producing an account that feels more true to the way judges actually decide and the way politicians interact with their courts. Her argument incorporates what is unique about courts as legal institutions, while remaining fully political in its analysis. An excellent addition to the burgeoning comparative judicial politics literature.'
Daniel M. Brinks, University of Texas, Austin

'A fascinating, methodologically astute, and theoretically sophisticated book. Kapiszewski's comparative account of high court-elected branch interaction in Brazil and Argentina provides a textbook illustration of how quality political science scholarship is essential to our understanding of law and courts.'
Ran Hirschl, University of Toronto

'Empirically rich and theoretically generative, this study marks a significant advance for the literature on comparative judicial politics. By contrasting patterns over time in two important cases, Kapiszewski gives us a new framework for thinking about judicial interaction with political branches. A major achievement.'
Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago

'High Courts and Economic Governance in Argentina and Brazil is an important empirical and theoretical contribution to the burgeoning literature on judicial politics in Latin America and to the broader literature on historical institutionalism. Diana Kapiszewski shows that high courts developed identifiable, relatively stable characters that help explain the pattern of interactions between courts and elected officials. By emphasizing court character, she challenges accounts that focus exclusively on judges'
or politicians

-term strategic incentives. Kapiszewski also skilfully analyzes the origins of the differences in court character in Argentina and Brazil.

Scott Mainwaring, Eugene and Helen Conley Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

About the Author

Diana Kapiszewski is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. Her PhD dissertation won the American Political Science Association's Edward S. Corwin Award for best dissertation in public law. Her articles have appeared in Perspectives on Politics, PS: Political Science and Politics, Law and Society Review, and Law and Social Inquiry.

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Book Info

Publication date

24th September 2012


Diana (University of California, Irvine) Kapiszewski

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Cambridge University Press


300 pages


Comparative politics
Comparative law
Courts & procedure



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