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

Texto completo:

PDF (English)


ARGUELHES, Diego Werneck, HARTMANN, Ivar A. Timing control without docket control: how individual Justices shape the Brazilian Supreme Court's agenda. Journal of Law and Courts. V. 5, no. 1, 2017.

ARLOTA, Carolina, and GAROUPA, Nuno. Addressing Federal Conflicts: An Empirical Analysis of the Brazilian Supreme Court, 1988–2010.Review of Law & Economics.V. 10, no. 2, 2014, p. 137–68. doi:10.1515/rle-2013-0037.

CLINTON, Joshua, JACKMAN, Simon and RIVERS, Douglas.The Statistical Analysis of Roll Call Data.American Political Science 02, May 2004, p. 355–70. doi:10.1017/S0003055404001194.

DESPOSATO, Scott W., INGRAM, Matthew C. e LANNES, Osmar P. Power, Composition, and Decision Making: The Behavioral Consequences of Institutional Reform on Brazil’s Supremo Tribunal Federal. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.V. 31, no. 3, August 1, 2015, p. 534–67. doi:10.1093/jleo/ewu018.

ENELOW, James M., and HINICH, Melvin J. (eds.) Advances in the Spatial Theory of Voting. Cambridge [England] ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

ENELOW, James M., and HINICH, Melvin J.The Spatial Theory of Voting: An Introduction. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

EPSTEIN, Lee, MARTIN, Andrew D., SEGAL, Jeffrey A. and WESTERLAND, Chad. The Judicial Common Space.Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.V. 23, no. 2, June, 2007, p. 303–25. doi:10.1093/jleo/ewm024.

FALCÃO, Joaquim, CERDEIRA, Pablo and ARGUELHES, Diego Werneck. I Relatório Supremo em Números. O Múltiplo Supremo. Rio de Janeiro: FGV Direito Rio, 2011.

JACKMAN, Simon. Multidimensional Analysis of Roll Call Data via Bayesian Simulation: Identification, Estimation, Inference, and Model Checking. Political Analysis. V. 9, no. 3, January 1, 2001, p. 227–41. doi:10.1093/polana/9.3.227.

KAPISZEWSKI, Diana. How Courts Work: Institutions, Culture, and the Brazilian Supremo Tribunal Federal. In COUSO, Javier, HUNEEUS, Alexandra and SIEDER, Rachel (Eds.) Cultures of Legality: Judicialization and Political Activism in Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 51–77.

LANNES, O.; DESPOSATO, S.; INGRAM, M. Judicial behavior in civil law systems: changing patterns on the Brazilian Supremo Tribunal Federal. In: CICLO 2012 DO PROGRAMA DE SEMINÁRIOS CIEF-CERME-LAPCIPP-MESP, 2. 2012.

LEONI, Eduardo L., RAMOS, Antonio P. Judicial Preferences and Judicial Independence in New Democracies: The Case of the Brazilian Supreme Court. 2006. Disponível em

LEWIS, Jeffrey B., and POOLE, Keith T. Measuring Bias and Uncertainty in Ideal Point Estimates via the Parametric Bootstrap. Political Analysis. V. 12, no. 2, May 1, 2004, p. 105–27. doi:10.1093/pan/mph015.

MARTIN, Andrew D., QUINN, Kevin M. Dynamic Ideal Point Estimation via Markov Chain Monte Carlo for the U.S. Supreme Court, 1953–1999. Political Analysis. V. 10, no. 2, May 1, 2002, p. 134–53. doi:10.1093/pan/10.2.134.

NERY FERREIRA, Pedro Fernando Almeida, MUELLER, Bernardo. How Judges Think in the Brazilian Supreme Court: Estimating Ideal Points and Identifying Dimensions. EconomiA. V. 15, no. 3, September 2014, p. 275–93. doi:10.1016/j.econ.2014.07.004.

OLIVEIRA, Fabiana Luci. Justice, Professionalism, and Politics in the Exercise of Judicial Review by Brazil’s Supreme Court.Brazilian Political Science Review. V. 3, no. SE, 2008.

PERESS, Michael. Small Chamber Ideal Point Estimation.Political Analysis. January 1, 2009. doi:10.1093/pan/mpp010.

POOLE, Keith T., LEWIS, Jeffrey B., LO, James, and CARROLL, Royce.Scaling Roll Call Votes with W-Nominate in R. Journal of Statistical Software.V. 42, no. 14, 2011.

POOLE, Keith T., ROSENTHAL, Howard. D-Nominate after 10 Years: A Comparative Update to Congress: A Political-Economic History of Roll-Call Voting. Legislative Studies Quarterly. V. 26, no. 1, 2001, p. 5–29. doi:10.2307/440401.

POOLE, Keith T., ROSENTHAL, Howard. A Spatial Model for Legislative Roll Call Analysis.American Journal of Political Science. V. 29, no. 2, May, 1985, p. 357. doi:10.2307/2111172.

POOLE, Keith T., ROSENTHAL, Howard. Congress: A Political-Economic History of Roll Call Voting. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

POOLE, Keith T., ROSENTHAL, Howard. Patterns of Congressional Voting.American Journal of Political Science. V. 35, no. 1, 1991, p. 228–78. doi:10.2307/2111445.

POSNER, Richard A. How Judges Think. Cambrige: Harvard University Press, 2010.

POSNER, Richard A. What Do Judges and Justices maximize? (The Same Thing Everybody Else Does). Supreme Court Economic Review. 1993, p. 1–41.

ROSEVEAR, Evan, HARTMANN, Ivar A. and ARGUELHES, Diego Werneck. Disagreement on the Brazilian Supreme Court: An Exploratory Analysis. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, October 31, 2015. Disponível em:

SEGAL, Jeffrey Allan, and SPAETH, Harold J.The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.



  • Não há apontamentos.

Direitos autorais 2017 Ivar Alberto Hartmann, Alexander Hudson

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

ISSN 1516-3210 | e-ISSN 1984-4182

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

R. Saldanha Marinho, n. 1762, Bigorrilho, Curitiba-PR, Brasil, CEP 80730-060
Telefone: +55 41 3014-0740