A major challenge faced by courts in the third wave of democratization is the combination of their power and their “newness.” In countries with established court systems, the power of the court relies greatly on “established prestige, tradition, or long-standing public acceptance to command respect and obedience.” Constitutional courts in new democracies, however, lack the benefit of tradition and so must find alternative ways to establish their power and authority in order to fulfill their roles as mentioned above. Furthermore, “they must establish themselves in societies that have long considered either executive authority or parliamentary sovereignty as the primary source of law and judges as mere bureaucrats.”[1]


In the Philippines, the Supreme Court faces a similar situation. In the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court is granted the power to determine questions of law and constitutionality. Especially given the broad principles and extensive protections of individual rights promulgated in the constitution, the potential for the Supreme Court’s power is great. However, the Court has hesitated in establishing itself and has often yielded to the assertions of other branches of government….

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[1] Smithey, Shannon Ishiyama. “Comparing Courts in Democratic Transitions.” International Politics 38 (June 2001): 283-290