CONSTITUTIONAL ADJUDICATION: THE COSTA RICAN EXPERIENCE
By Robert S. Barker
This book traces the legal and historical development of one of the most important aspects of constitutionalism - constitutional adjudication (or "judicial review"), in a country with a longstanding commitment to the rule of law - Costa Rica.
"This book reflects a very high level of legal scholarship on Latin American constitutional law and, upon publication, will become the definitive English-language work on Costa Rican constitutionalism."
- from the Preface by Professor Keith S. Rosenn, University of Miami School of Law
The purpose of this book is to present a picture of constitutional adjudication in Costa Rica in a way that will be interesting and useful to students of comparative constitutional law, legal and political history, government, and Latin American area studies. The term "constitutional adjudication," as used herein, refers to those processes and procedures by which constitutional questions are presented to and answered by judicial tribunals, and the substantive constitutional jurisprudence thus produced. The organization of the book is, for the most part, historical. Chapter I focuses on the system of constitutional adjudication that developed gradually during the early part of the Twentieth Century, was modified and clarified by the Constitution of 1949 and laws enacted shortly thereafter, and remained in operation until 1989. Chapter II begins with an overview of Costa Rica's constitutional history, and particularly its methods of resolving constitutional questions - from independence (in 1821) to 1989. That overview is followed by a fairly detailed examination of the proposals, arguments, and processes that in 1989 resulted in the substantial reform of the process of constitutional adjudication. The chapter concludes with an examination of the early jurisprudence under the 1989 reform and a suggestion of some of its successes and problems evident in the early 1990's. Chapter III is devoted to a discussion and evaluation of the first decade of the new (i.e., 1989) system of constitutional adjudication, in both its juridical and general aspects. Chapter IV begins where the preceding chapter leaves off, explaining and analyzing those Twenty-First Century decisions of greatest juridical, political, and societal importance, and identifying areas of new or continuing controversy difficulty.
Robert S. Barker is Distinguished Professor Law at Duquesne University and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh. His Latin American experience began as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer-lawyer in Panama in the 1960's, where he played an important role in the establishment of the program of legal assistance to the marginal communities of Panama City. Since then, in addition to his research activities in Costa Rica, he has been a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina, Chairman of the Constitutional Law Committee and General Reporter of the Inter-American Bar Association, and a frequent speaker on constitutional topics throughout Latin America.