Mexico’s Supreme Court Justice of the Nation (SCJN). Photo: Google

By KELIN DILLON

Nearly seven months after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) proposal to extend the country’s Supreme Court (SCJN) Chief Justice Arturo Zalvídar’s term of office passed through Congress, the SCJN’s Plenary unanimously rejected the so-called “Zalvídar Law” for its unconstitutionality on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

The law was set to extend Zalvídar’s seat on the SCJN by another four years, through 2024, coinciding with the end of AMLO’s own presidential administration.

“The law is evidently in violation of Article 97, fifth paragraph and Article 100, fifth paragraph, of the Mexican Constitution,” said SCJN Speaker Minister Fernando Franco González during Tuesday’s session.

“Upon determining the extension of a constitutionally foreseen term for four years, with an express prohibition of immediate reelection, since the extension of the period to which the challenged transitory refers constitutes a de facto reelection, the constitutional violation of this law is evident.”

Fellow minister Luis María Aguilar Morales likewise pointed out the precedent passing Zalvídar’s Law could establish, unbalancing Mexico’s powers and giving undue influence to Congress over the judicial branch.

Minister Norma Piña went on to mention that Congress initially passed the law without any reflection on its constitutionality, saying the move “radically attacks the judicial independence and the legitimacy of the country’s judicial power and of this SCJN, and represents a very serious violation of one of the foundations of a democratic constitution such as ours.”

After only one hour and 20 minutes of debate, the SCJN voted unanimously to overturn the congressional law.

That same day, López Obrador sent his pick of candidates to fill a spot on the SCJN that will be left vacant by Franco González, nominating Loretta Ortiz Ahlf, Eva Verónica de Gyvés Zárate and Bernardo Bátiz Vázquez for the seat on Mexico’s highest court.

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