Constitutionalism in the Americas
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Constitutionalism in the Americas

Edited by Colin Crawford and Daniel Bonilla Maldonado

Constitutionalism in the Americas unites the work of leading scholars of constitutional law, comparative law and Latin American and U.S. constitutional law to provide a critical and provocative look at the state of constitutional law across the Americas today. The diverse chapters employ a variety of methodologies – empirical, historical, philosophical and textual analysis – in the effort to provide a comprehensive look at a generation of constitutional change across two continents.
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Chapter 3: The geopolitics of constitutionalism in Latin America

Jorge L. Esquirol


This chapter contends that the relationship between Latin American and U.S. constitutionalism is not horizontal. Esquirol argues that the vertical nature of the relationship is illustrated particularly well by the relative importance of the Latin American constitutional courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. While the U.S. Supreme Court enjoys broad prestige in Latin America, Esquirol explains, Latin American courts have a questionable reputation in the United States (when they are visible at all). While the U.S. court is widely cited by Latin American court and academics, the case law of Latin American courts is not known and rarely cited by U.S. law professors and courts. For Esquirol, this relationship of subordination of Latin American to U.S. constitutional law is explained by two variables that have contributed to creating a negative image of Latin American constitutional law in the United States, variables that have been instrumental in constructing an idealized image of U.S. liberal constitutionalism and a hyper-realist image of the failures of Latin American constitutionalism. The first variable is the concept of “obstruction of justice” in international law. This concept presents Latin American justice systems as radically dysfunctional. The second variable is the law and development movement and its impact on contemporary comparative law. Esquirol argues that for the law and development movement Latin American constitutionalism has failed.

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