The people as semi-guardians of the Constitution: Actio popularis and judicial review of amendments in Colombia

The Colombian Constitutional Court is famous because of the way it used the unconstitutional constitutional amendment doctrine to prevent the erosion of the Colombian democracy against the ambition of former President Uribe, who tried to be re-elected for a third time. This article tracks the roots of the Colombian unconstitutional constitutional amendment doctrine and shows that its development has been more nuanced and complicated than what the literature typically assumes. The author claims that the Colombian actio popularis–first introduced in Colombia in 1910—is the judicial mechanism that allowed the doctrine to rise, as the wide scope of that mechanism allowed the citizens to bring claims that allowed the judicial system to become politically consequential. Along with the fragmentation of the Colombian political landscape, the actio popularis contributed to pushing the Colombian courts to confront politicians and built its powerful judicial authority.