After a long legislative process, Mexico’s Federal Congress has approved amendments to several laws implementing a judicial restructuring in Mexico. Among the amendments restructuring the Mexican Judicial Branch is a transitory article that has sparked national debate in numerous: political, judicial, academic and the media. Mexican public opinion was that such transitory article came as a surprise, because it was not included until the very end of the amendment process. Transitory article thirteenth approves a two-year extension to the existing four-year term of the chief justice of the Mexican Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldivar, which existing four-year term had already been approved by the full Supreme Court, as required under the Constitution.
As opposed to the United States, where the executive branch appoints the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with the approval of the Senate, in Mexico the full Supreme Court appoints its own Chief Justice for a four year term, and such term may not be extended. The above amendment was clearly unconstitutional, and the opposition has filed a lawsuit to declare the amendment unconstitutional and invalid. This created a conflict of interest, given that the Supreme Court would have to rule on the constitutionality of the transitory article that specifically applied to and affected the Court itself. Such ruling would have negative consequences on the relevant work of the Supreme Court’s justices. To put an end to the controversy, the Chief Justice waived any right to extend his term. Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar stated that he will use the remainder of his term on the Supreme Court to advance the implementation of the new regulations applicable to the Mexican Federal Judicial Branch. By his actions, the Chief Justice resolved a conflict that would have impacted the Supreme Court and the Federal Judicial Branch.