"In my position as a judge, I never doubted the institutions, the empire of law," said Atala. But when her children were taken away, her "notion of justice" was shattered. "The only possible option, for a woman of law, was to turn to international courts," Atala said. "The action by itself was paradigmatic: a judge fighting for justice by challenging her hierarchical superior using international [law]."
Atala's daughters are now home. The years of lost custody cannot be restored, and no legislation must be changed under the Inter-American Court's ruling. But Chilean judges will receive diversity training, and Atala's lesson will reverberate around the world through judicial dialogue. "This is without a doubt the great legacy of this cause," said Atala last month. "To teach respect for the diverse Other in his or her dignity as a person."