Monday, October 14, 2013

Constitutional Chamber challenges National Assembly again

The Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court today challenged the power of the National Assembly yet again.   The Constitutional Chamber today ruled that the president of the Supreme Court, Salomón Padilla, was improperly elected to the Court because of his party ties to the FMLN.  Padilla has never denied having those ties.

Initial reaction to the decision followed partisan lines in the country.   Representatives of the FMLN and GANA decried the decision as exceeding the power of the Court.   Representatives of ARENA and the PCN applauded the decision as supporting judicial independence.

There was no immediate reaction from Salomón Padilla.   Nor did President Funes or the candidates for his job make a comment today.   The possibility exists that we might have a repeat of last year when members of the Supreme Court refused to acknowledge a Constitutional Chamber ruling that they had been improperly elected.


2 comments:

Carlos X said...

Judicial autonomy is important and the rule of law is important. For this reason, I have given an extended benefit of the doubt to the Constitutional Chamber. Yet, part of the checks and balances entail a political calculation, and the magistrates must be constantly conscious of the elasticity of Salvadoran society and not unnecessarily tempt the breaking point. Civil society in El Salvador seems at times to be hanging by a thread and leaders, including the judiciary, must be responsible. Additionally, a lot of these decisions seem to be entirely self-conscious, having a lot to do with the court's own personnel and makeup. To the extent that the magistrates are seen to be self-serving or even just self-referential, they will lose traction and tempt losing the support or buy-off that the judiciary needs from the rest of society to make the rule of law work. As we found out in the U.S., a Supreme Court has no army and subsists entirely on that society's faith for its effectiveness.

Tim said...

I agree completely with these sentiments. The Constitutional Chamber has not yet learned the value of prudence in what it chooses to rule on. The political question doctrine as it is used by the US Supreme Court is an important tool to avoid losing legitimacy and the societal support which a Supreme Court needs.