Faculty of Law

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Pedro Felipe is a research student in the field of Constitutional Law. His doctoral research is supervised by Professor Paul Yowell and focuses on how interactions between courts and political institutions influence the consolidation and the transformation of judicial review in distinct jurisdictions. Pedro is particularly interested in qualitative comparative analysis to better understand the dynamics of institutional change in dysfunctional political environments, with emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches involving Political Science and Complexity Theory.

Pedro Felipe holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Harvard Law School, where he was awarded the Dean's Scholar Prize, and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) summa cum laude from the University of Brasilia, where he graduated as the valedictorian of his class.

Pedro Felipe also serves as Federal Judge in Brazil since 2013. As the current Director of Training at the Judicial School of the Brazilian Federal Court for the First Circuit, he is in charge of continuing education programs for federal judges in his country. During his judicial career, he served the Brazilian Supreme Court as Auxiliary Judge for a two-year term, from 2017 to 2018. Before being appointed to the bench, he worked as a Federal Public Defender and clerked at the Brazilian Federal Court for the First Circuit. 

Pedro has teaching experience in Constitutional Theory, Comparative Constitutional Law, and Private Law. He is also a member of the OxonCourts discussion group, which is affiliated both to the Faculty of Law and to the Department of Policial Science.


Recent additions

Journal Article (4)

Pedro Felipe De Oliveira Santos, 'Beyond Minimalism and Usurpation: Designing Judicial Review to Control the Mis-enforcement of Socioeconomic Rights' (2019) 18 Washington University Global Studies Law Review 493
Two opposing arguments–judicial restraint and judicial activism–have polarized the constitutional law debate on the judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights in developing countries. The former argues that judicial under-enforcement would be preferable to judicial over- enforcement of rights, so that courts should adopt weak remedies when implementing policies and legislation. The latter argues the contrary, prescribing strong review as an efficient mechanism of enforcement. Drawing on empirical research on the right to health care-related litigation in Brazil, this work presents evidence that constitutional law has fallen into a false dichotomy. Neither of these two arguments offers a complete account of the core of the case of the judicial implementation of socio-economic rights: the mis-enforcement of rights, a scenario in which the protection of a target group causes unintended distributive and aggregate effects that increase overall inequality. As the empirical findings demonstrate, under the Brazilian institutional arrangements, with characteristics shared by other developing countries, mis-enforcement may arise from both under- and over-enforcement of rights. For this reason, the level of review alone is an insufficient criterion to build a universal formula of judicial decision-making in socio-economic rights- related litigation. Besides, two overlooked structural factors may be the root of the mis-enforcement issue: a litigation system focused on individualized lawsuits, as well as a formalist rights-based legal reasoning adopted by courts, which disregards institutional arrangements and costs of compliance with rulings. In order to reorient the debate, this paper argues that judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights is legitimate as long as it commits to 1) enriching the political process, mainly by pushing issues back to political players with correct incentives of action and institutional adherence, and 2) fixing minor counter-majoritarian issues related to the distribution of limited public resources, mainly by guaranteeing basic needs to the most disadvantaged groups. Instead of adopting a universal formula of judicial review, this dual purpose requires courts dealing with socio-economic rights implementation to enhance their actual institutional capacities in order to build case-by-case remedies that 1) take into account issues more likely to arise in this kind of litigation, such as types of needs and recipients, and distributive and aggregate impacts of rulings; as well as 2) promote political engagement, institutional accountability, and democratic representativeness.
ISBN: 1546-6981
Pedro Felipe De Oliveira Santos, 'The Uneasy Case of a Psychographic Letter: Applying the Logocratic Method to the Brazilian System of Evidence' (2017) Revista da Escola Judiciária do Piauí 331
Pedro Felipe De Oliveira Santos and Fernando Meneguim, 'Há Incompatibilidade entre a Legalidade e a Eficiência?' (2014) Revista de Informação Legislativa 15

Internet Publication (5)

Pedro Felipe De Oliveira Santos, 'In or out? Constitutions and Political Orders' (2018) Beyond Rights
Constitutional Theory generally describes constitutions and legal institutions as exogenous components of the political order. According to this account, the legal and the political orders are two distinct domains with low degree of overlap. Normative claims built on this framework state that each should avoid undue interferences in one another. Furthermore, a pure and reasoned legal practice should be safeguarded mainly by adopting language-based constraints. On the one hand, the legal order should speak only the language of principles and of legal arguments. On the other hand, the political order may speak a broader vocabulary, including policy-based arguments. However, this account leaves one question open: where is the power in Constitutional Theory? Answering this point requires depicting constitutions and legal institutions as endogenous components of the political order, in order to bring back a missing detail from the shadows of constitutional practice: how constitutions influence the interactions among political actors and institutions, at the same time that these interactions also contribute to what constitutions become.

Chapter (3)

Pedro Felipe De Oliveira Santos and Luiz Fux, 'Constituições e Cultura Política: Para Além do Constitucionalismo Contramajoritário' in Marcelo Novelino (ed), Liberdade e Fraternidade: a Contribuição de Ayres Britto para o Direito Constitucional (Juspodivm 2017)
ISBN: 978-85-442-1852-5
Pedro Felipe De Oliveira Santos, 'Como os Juízes Julgam: Ensaio sobre o Realismo Jurídico' in Reynaldo Soares da Fonseca (ed), Justiça Federal (D’Placido 2016)

Book (1)

Pedro Felipe De Oliveira Santos, O Controle Penal do Tráfico de Drogas: Manifestações do Second Code da Criminalização Secundária no Superior Tribunal de Justiça (VirtualBooks Editor 2012)

Research Interests

Constitutional Law; Constitutional Theory; Comparative Constitutional Law; Political Science; Complexity Theory.

Research projects