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Can you bury ideology? An empirical analysis of the ideal points of the Ministers of Brazil’s Supremo Tribunal Federal

Alexander Hudson, Ivar Alberto Hartmann


Brazil's Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF) is an especially interesting case for scholars with an interest in judicial behavior. The justices of the STF rule in tens of thousands of cases per year, in a great variety of legal disputes. The ideological breakdown of the STF remains puzzling. Observers of the STF find that a single left-right dimension is entirely inadequate to describe the voting coalitions that form in the court. In this paper, we utilize a new dataset covering a representative sample of all cases decided by the STF between 1992 and 2013. The first important finding is that the voting patterns of the STF show that at least four dimensions are necessary to describe the justices' ideal points. We then estimate ideal points for 23 justices on each of four dimensions, and associate these dimensions with the dominant areas of law with which the STF deals. Finally, we seek to use these ideal point estimates to compare the votes of the justices in key cases with their broader voting pattern.


Brazilian Supreme Federal Court; Ideology; Judicial Behavior

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Este trabalho está licenciado com uma Licença Creative Commons Atribuição-NãoComercial-SemDerivações 4.0 Internacional.

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