Two New Justices Join Mexico’s Supreme Court

December 12, 2009
Two New Justices Join Mexico’s Supreme Court

With an important constitutional amendment that entered into force in 1995, Mexico’s Supreme Court (SupremaCorte de Justicia de la Nación or SCJN) underwent important changes. Such amendment not only reduced thenumber of justices from twenty-four to eleven, but also provided the court with important new authority toresolve cases involving unconstitutional actions and constitutional controversies. The reform also changed theterms of the SCJN justices, which now run for fifteen years, and provided a mandatory retirement age. Theconstitutional amendment also put in place new procedures for choosing SCJN justices. In conformity with theMexican Constitution, the president submits a slate of candidates to the Federal Senate, which then elects andnames these new justices. Justices Mariano Azuela and Genaro Gongora, both former chief justices of the SCJN,recently concluded their terms in November, and the Senate received from the President two slates of candidateswith which to proceed in the substitution process. The slates of candidates presented were interesting. One slateof candidates was made up of three individuals currently working in the Mexican federal judiciary, while theother slate was comprised of two university researchers and a practicing litigation attorney with a prestigiousacademic record. The signal given by the president in submitting such slates of candidates is that he deemed itadvisable for the SCJN to have justices coming from different backgrounds in order to give the court a variety ofviewpoints and experience. The Senate received input from its committees, and from antiparliamentary groups, on all six of the candidates. The decision of the full Senate resulted in the appointment of Luis Maria AguilarMorales, an expert in jurisdictional procedure issues, but also well-versed in administrative and budgetary issues.The second justice named was Arturo Zaldivar, an acclaimed litigator in constitutional amparo lawsuits and anactive member of the Mexican Bar Association, university professor and recognized researcher. Arturo Zaldivaris a graduate of the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City, where he obtained his law degree, and the LawFaculty of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), where he obtained his doctorate degree.

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