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Title: Essays on Colombian Constitutional Politics 1992-2018
Authors: Luna McAdams, Sean
Advisors: Yashar, Deborah
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Constitutional law
Constitutional reform
Judicial politics
LGBT+ politics
Text analysis
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Why would politicians delegate greater authority to high courts charged with constitutional interpretation? Even with the formal powers to intervene in public policy, how do high courts go about building their legitimacy and institutional identity through constitutional interpretation? Finally, how do social sectors and political parties opposed to judiciary-led reforms react to courts enacting significant policy changes through their rulings? My dissertation builds on existing explanations across these questions to better understand the origins, development, and consequences of judicial empowerment in Latin America through a detailed study of Colombia’s constitutional politics 1992-2018. The first paper considers the origins of one of the most powerful courts in the world: the Colombian Constitutional Court (CCC). Comparing reform processes in Colombia in 1991 and Argentina in 1994, I suggest that pre-assembly negotiations were deeply consequential for the nature of the reforms enacted. Pre-assembly negotiations shaped the degree of contingency and complexity drafters operated in; both contingency and fragmentation had to be present to result in expanded systems of constitutional justice. The second paper analyzes the CCC’s development of judicial authority using an original dataset of all the rulings the CCC published 1992-2018. I develop and validate a dynamic structural topic model to classify this data. I use the model’s topics to develop a novel scaling measure of the CCC's judges based on their use of rights enforcing and formalist language. This scaling shows judges helped to institutionalize a new approach to constitutional interpretation in the first years of the CCC. However, while the Court has become more conservative, its anti-formalist approach to constitutional interpretation has proven resistant to erosion. The final paper analyzes social backlash to such judicial interventionism. Using survey data from LAPOP, I use a difference-in-differences approach to measure backlash among religious citizens following the CCC’s rulings to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011 and reform national sexual education in 2015. I find that in the aftermath of these rulings, Evangelical respondents were much more likely to respond that they had participated in protests, feel disaffected towards elected officials, deepen their anti-gay sentiments, and increase their disapproval of same-sex marriages.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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