Mexico’s Supreme Court Has Its 11th Member (Finally)

11 02 2011
Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo

Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo, Newly Elected SCJN's Ministro

The Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN), Mexico’s highest court, has been very active lately. And they finally have a replacement for late Ministro José de Jesús Gudiño Pelayo (a Ministro is Mexico’s equivalent to a SCOTUS’ Justice). This Thursday, the Senado de la República (almost no need to translate it as Senate) picked the 11th and newest Supreme Court Ministro, Mr. Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo. Mr. Pardo Rebolledo has been a Magistrado de Tribunal Colegiado de Circuito (in U.S. terms, a Federal Circuit Judge).

The lack of its 11th member drove the Supreme Court to several tied votes both in Plenary sessions (5-5 vote) and in the First Chamber (2-2 vote), in which Ministro Gudiño Pelayo was a member. Mexico’s Supreme Court is composed of 11 Ministros, which hear cases in Plenary Sessions (all 11 included) or in one of two Chambers (composed of 5 Ministros each; the Ministro Presidente (Mexico’s counterpart to the SCOTUS Chief Justice) is not part of either Chamber.

(In the case of the Plenary sessions, the newly elected Ministro Presidente of the SCJN,  Juan Silva Mesa, refused to issue a casting vote as a way of pressuring the Executive and Legislative branches to name a new Ministro; the most noticeable case was on the validity of challenging amendments to the Constitution “if and when unconstitutional on themselves.”)

Mexico’s method for designating new members of the Supreme Court shows a fine balance of powers, described with precision in article 96 of the Constitución Política de los Estados Mexicanos (CPEUM, the Mexican Federal Constitution): the Executive proposes 3 candidates to the Senate, who can choose 1 –by a qualified 2/3 super-majority) or reject all 3. If the Senate fails to choose 1 or reject all 3 candidates within 30 days after receiving the proposal, the President can freely pick 1 among the 3.

If the Senate rejects the first 3 candidates, the President then proposes 3 new ones, and the Senate has the same 2 options, but if fails to pick 1, the Executive can freely name it among the candidates included on the second list as new Ministro.

Ministro Gudiño Pelayo passed away on 09.19.10 while vacationing in London. Later in December, President Calderon sent an all-female candidate proposal to the Senate, who rejected them all in due course. President Calderon sent a new proposal on January to the Senate (the new proposal was composed of 3 male judges); had they failed to pick a new Ministro this time, Calderon would have had free hands to choose 1 among the second 3 candidates.

Now with a full Court, I look forward to see the discussion and vote on whether amendments to the Constitution can be unconstitutional-a matter of the chicken or the egg.

[Check also recent decisions of the SCJN and a Circuit Court, in issues ranging from taxes on cashiers’ checks considered as cash, independent right of non-cohabitant parents to exercise parental rights, constitutionality of considering lawyers better than public accountants in the Armed Forces (not really), blessing for seizure of property for non-cooperative tax payers and condoning fines,  and in the case of a Circuit Court, the rejection on overturning the 60 years sentence on French citizen Florence Cassez]



One response

30 03 2011
SCJN Says No to Amparo Trial as Avenue to Challenge Constitutional Amendments « The JurisMex Blog

[…] 01.31.11 meeting that ended in a 5-5 vote draw. Ministro Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo, the Court’s newest justice, had the uneasy task of starting his rookie year tipping the scale (although at the end there were […]

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