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Public Law & Legal Theory


Recent literature on comparative judicial politics reveals a variety of roles that courts adopt in the process of democratization. These include, very rarely, serving as a trigger for democratization, and more commonly, serving as downstream guarantor for departing autocrats or as downstream consolidator of democracy. In light of these roles, this essay reviews six relatively recent books: Courts in Latin America, edited by Helmke and Rios-Figueroa (2011); Judges Beyond Politics in Democracy and Dictatorship: Lessons from Chile, by Hilbink (2007); Cultures of Legality: Judicialization and Political Activism in Latin America, edited by Couso, Huneeus and Sieder (2011); The Legacies of Law: Long-Run Consequences of Legal Development in South Africa, 1652–2000, by Meierhenrich (2008); Judging Russia: Constitutional Court in Russian Politics 1990–2006, by Trochev (2008); and New Courts in Asia, edited by Harding and Nicholson (2010).



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