Camilla Gomes will take part in the Fox International Fellowship program at Yale

PhD candidate Camilla Gomes has been selected to take part in the Fox International Fellowship program for the 2023-2024 academic year. The Fox International Fellowship promotes academic exchange between Yale University and postgraduate students from 21 other prestigious universities around the world, including the University of São Paulo.

Camilla is supervised by professor Virgílio Afonso da Silva and, over the next two semesters, she will take part in interdisciplinary seminars, workshops and lectures aimed at developing her research.

In the 2022-2023 term, the representative of the University of São Paulo in the Fox Fellowship program was also a researcher from our group, Julia Wand-Del-Rey Cani, who currently writes her dissertation under the supervision of professor Conrado Hübner Mendes.

Luiz Fernando Gomes Esteves is the new assistant professor at Insper

Our associate researcher Luiz Fernando Gomes Esteves has been appointed assistant professor at Insper – Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa. He will teach courses in Organisation of Justice and Foundations of Process, Conflict Resolution Processes and State Organisation.

Luiz completed his PhD in 2022 under the supervision of Professor Virgílio Afonso da Silva. In his thesis, he analyzed the factors that influence the choice of cases that will make up the STF’s plenary judgement agenda. An output of his research was presented at the 27th World Congress of Political Science of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) in Buenos Aires.

Before joining Insper, Luiz was a full-time professor at Cefet-RJ, between 2015 and 2022.

Congratulations, Luiz!

Application for Master’s and Doctorate Degrees 2023-2024

The call for applications for master’s and doctorate degrees at the Faculty of Law of the University of São Paulo has been published. The research group Constitution, Politics & Institutions aims to attract new researchers from all regions of the country and from abroad. Our selection process follows all the deadlines and rules defined in the USP Law School’s call for applications, but our selection is collective, not individual (see more information below).

If you are looking for a dynamic and plural academic environment, in constant dialogue with colleagues and professors from all over the world (see Research Seminars and International Dialogues in Constitutional Law), this is an excellent opportunity.

Virgílio Afonso da Silva, Conrado Hübner Mendes & Marcos Paulo Verissimo

More information [in Portuguese]


Michele Zezza will be professor at the Universidad Central de Chile

Michele Zezza has been appointed professor at the Faculty of Law and Humanities of the Universidad Central de Chile (Coquimbo). He will teach courses in “Foundations of Legal Philosophy”, “Contemporary Theories of Justice” and “Law, Rhetoric and Literature”.

Michele did his postdoctoral researcher in our group from 2018 to 2022, under the supervision of Professor Virgílio Afonso da Silva.

Congratulations, Michele!

Symposium on the work of Robert Alexy

On 29 and 30 September and 1 October 2021, the international symposium Elemente einer diskursiven Grund- und Menschenrechtstheorie (Elements of a discursive theory of fundamental and human rights) was held at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. The symposium was dedicated to the work of Robert Alexy, on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Participants included researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. The keynote speakers were Mark Tushnet (Harvard University), Dieter Grimm (University of Berlin, German Constitutional Court) and Robert Alexy (University of Kiel). Virgílio Afonso da Silva, head of the constitution, politics & institutions group, presented a paper with the provocative title “Die verborgene Welt hinter Fußnote 24” (The hidden world behind footnote 24), in which he analyses the collisions between principles and rules to demonstrate that these may demand different types of balancing, which, depending on institutional design, may be performed by different authorities. The papers presented at the symposium will be published (in German) by Mohr Publisher in 2022.

Special series Challenges to democracy: politics and the judicial system in dialogue

On May 24, May 31 and June 7, at 2pm BRT, we host Yasser Kureshi (Oxford), Fábio de Sá e Silva (Oklahoma) and Anya Bernstein for our special series Challenges to democracy: politics and the judicial system in dialogue.

Our guests will deliver their lectures in English. No RSVP required. The events will be streamed live via Google Meet (stream link).

next lectures in the series

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Virgílio Afonso da Silva, The Constitution of Brazil (paperback edition)

The paperback edition of the book The Constitution of Brazil: a contextual analysis, by Virgilio Afonso da Silva, is now available. The book is part of the Constitutional Systems of the World series, by Hart Publishing. See here.


This book offers an original and comprehensive analysis of Brazilian constitutional law and shows how the 1988 Constitution has been a cornerstone in Brazil’s struggle to achieve institutional stability and promote the enforcement of fundamental rights. In the realm of rights, although much has been done to decrease the gap between constitutional text and constitutional practice, several types of inequalities still affect and sometimes impair the enforcement of the ambitious bill of rights laid down by the Brazilian Constitution. Within the organisation of powers, the book not only describes how its legislative, executive and judicial functions are organised, but above all else, it analyses how a politically fragmented National Congress, a powerful President and an activist Supreme Court engage with each other in ways that one could hardly grasp by reading the constitutional text without contextual analysis. Similarly, the book also shows how the three-tiered federation established in 1988 has undergone a process of centralisation led not only by the central government but also by the Brazilian Supreme Court. In addition to chapters on organisation of powers, fundamental rights, federalism, and the legislative process, the book also presents an overview of Brazilian constitutionalism with a special focus on the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, which led to the enactment of the 1988 Constitution. In the conclusion, the author argues that part of the Constitution’s transformative potential remains to be realised. Enforcing the Constitution, not changing it, has been the real challenge in the last three decades and will continue to be for many years to come.

Gender quota and the role of the electoral court

The last volume of the Politics & Gender journal published an article by Luciana de Oliveira Ramos and Virgílio Afonso da Silva on the role of the electoral justice in the enforcement of gender quotas in Brazil (“The Gender Gap in Brazilian Politics and the Role of the Electoral Court”). Follow this link to see the article.


Like many other countries, Brazil has adopted gender quotas in elections for legislatures at all levels of the federation. However, Brazilian gender quotas have been ineffective at increasing women’s participation in politics. Authors usually point to reasons related to the electoral system and party structure. This article analyzes a variable that is rarely considered: the role of the Electoral Court. We argue that the quality and intensity of the control exercised by an electoral court, when called upon to decide on the enforcement of the gender quota law, can influence the efficacy of this policy. We show that, in general, the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court tends to foster the participation of women in politics. However, based on two divides—between easy and difficult cases and between cases with low and high impact—we argue that in the realm of gender quotas, this court takes a rather restrained stance in those cases considered both difficult and with high impact.

Carlos Bernal (Constitutional Court, Colombia): Is Transformative Constitutionalism an Illusion for the Global South?

The International Dialogues in Constitutional Law event resumed its activities in the second semester of 2018 with the lecture “Is Transformative Constitutionalism an Illusion for the Global South?”, presented by the judge of the Colombian Constitutional Court Carlos Bernal Pulido. In this conference, Bernal presented the path for Courts’ transformative action to promote a representative, deliberative and participatory democracy.

According to Bernal, there is a conceptual uncertainty as to what “transformative constitutionalism” is, especially given the lack of clarity as to the objectives to be achieved. As a response, he identifies two purposes: reducing extreme poverty and reducing inequality. The performance of the Courts in the constitutional jurisdiction should, then, be guided by these principles.

Substantially, Bernal points out that non-interventional Courts do not help in achieving these goals. On the other hand, interventionist Courts are more likely to be discredited due to the lack of results, to the creation of perverse incentives and to the destruction of wealth due to the prioritization of the interest of small groups in detriment of common interests.

Thus, the path defended by the judge is intermediary: an active Court in constitutional jurisdiction, but guided by proportional and deliberative constitutionalism. In this sense, the judicial performance should favour the dialogue between those involved and consider the financial consequences of the cause, avoiding the attribution of unenforceable charges.

Report by Ana Clara Pamplona, translated by Natalia Langenegger. Photos by Artur Pericles Lima Monteiro.

Christopher Mbazira (Makerere University, Uganda): Transnational judicial dialogues and the enforcement of socioeconomic rights

On October 17, 2018, our guest was Prof. Dr. Christopher Mbazira, professor at Makerere University in Uganda. From the analysis of constitutional jurisdiction and constitutionalism in three African countries (South Africa, Kenya and Uganda), Mbazira identifies the existence of a transnational judicial dialogue. This dialogue is mainly expressed by direct interaction between judges from different countries which voluntary quote votes from other Courts.

Mbazira argues that the best explanation for this phenomenon is that judges have progressively increased the amount of times foreign Court’s decisions are quoted because they identify themselves as peers. Thus, organically, they have come to recognize similarities in the agenda pursued, in the methods used and in the purposes sought by the institutional structure in which they belong.

To illustrate this relationship, he presented a set of concrete examples. In this movement, South Africa emerges as the Country leading the changes and inspiring other countries to emulate them, as a leader of the pack. However, in recent times, Kenya has also emerged as a possible influence for other Courts in advancing rights. This was mainly due to the adoption of the new constitutional text, also influenced by other Countries. Among other provisions, this constitution establishes that State must prove the absence of financial resources to finance public policies.

After professor’s Mbazira’s presentation, he answered questions presented by the audience, among which (i) about the possibility of naming the phenomenon as dialogue if no actual exchanges between Courts occur, (ii) related to the evidence of the existence an effective influence, and (iii) resulted in an invitation to conduct a normative reflection on the consequences of this phenomenon.

Written by Ana Laura Pereira Barbosa. Translation by Natalia Langenegger. Photos by Artur Pericles Lima Monteiro and Fernanda Mascarenhas de Souza.