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Endogenous Sources of Judicial Power: Parapolitics and the Supreme Court of Colombia

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Courts' legal-constitutional authority, strategic interactions with elected branches, and ideational factors are acknowledged as rival theoretical frameworks of judicial power, i.e. courts' legal and practical power to make and enforce decisions, including politically assertive ones. This article presents an alternative explanation for judicial power and assertiveness, arguing that judicial power can be endogenous to judicial processes, as legal-constitutional authority, strategic interactions, and ideational shifts are rooted in the unfolding of a judicialized political conflict. The article assesses the sources of judicial power by examining the Colombian Supreme Court's rulings and off-bench activism during the parapolitics scandal, in the course of which the Court investigated about one-third of Congress. It finds the parapolitics process itself redefined the justices' interests, self-perceptions, and, consequently, limits of jurisdiction.
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Keywords: COLOMBIA; ENDOGENEITY; JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE; JUDICIAL POWER; PARAPOLITICS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2020

This article was made available online on December 12, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Endogenous Sources of Judicial Power: Parapolitics and the Supreme Court of Colombia".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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