Mexico President to Send Second Round of Supreme Court Hopefuls to Senate


Members of Mexico’s legal community are concerned that the next Supreme Court justice will be partisan and unqualified for the job.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Thursday that he will send a second round of nominees for an open spot on the Supreme Court to Congress after none of his first three selections received a qualified majority in the Senate on Wednesday.

“If they don’t get a qualified majority, I have to send another shortlist with some changes,” he told reporters at his daily morning press conference in Mexico City. “As many as two from the first round can go again, changing one, or I can send one and change two, or I can change all three.”

López Obrador will send the new list to the Senate on either Thursday or Friday, he said. His ruling Morena party has a simple majority in the upper house of Congress, but not the two-thirds required to appoint a nominee to the bench. 

After he sent his first round of candidates to the Senate in mid-November, analysts predicted that neither round would get a qualified majority, possibly leading to the unprecedented situation of Mexico’s next Supreme Court justice being hand-picked by the president

The first three nominees were criticized for their lack of experience and political proximity to López Obrador.

López Obrador, however, pushed back on those predictions, saying that he does not want to make the final decision himself. 

“I want the Senate to decide,” he said. “I hope they can come to an agreement and decide there.”

Members of Mexico’s legal community, however, weren’t buying it. 

“The president has said that he does not want to make the appointment himself, but that all depends on the names and profiles that he sends to the Senate,” said Rodrigo Brito Melgarejo, a law professor at Mexico’s National Autonomous University. “If he had wanted the Senate to make the decision, he would have sought a consensus from the beginning and wouldn’t have sent people who are so close to him.”

But considering the first three candidates he picked, it will likely not matter which branch of government makes the decision.

“He can send names of people who are aligned with his political project, and the Senate will be obligated to pick one of them,” Brito said.

Law professor Javier Martín Reyes, also of Mexico’s National Autonomous University, predicted that Mexico’s next Supreme Court justice will be someone politically aligned with the Fourth Transformation, López Obrador’s grand plan to change Mexico into a more equitable, less corrupt country.

“It’s highly probable that the president will send a new shortlist of very partisan profiles, people who are very close to his administration and even — as in the case of Lenia Batres and María Estrela Ríos — profiles that do not comply with even a minimum of technical competency to be on the Supreme Court,” said Reyes. 

Batres and Ríos both serve under López Obrador on the executive branch’s legal advisory council. Batres is the sister of Martí Batres, the current mayor of Mexico City for Morena. The other candidate from the first round, Bertha Martha Alcalde Luján, is the sister of Luisa María Alcalde Luján, López Obrador’s Secretary of the Interior. None of them have any experience as judges.

The president has the Senate stuck between a rock and a hard place, Reyes said, because he will get who he wants onto the bench either way. 

At the time of writing, López Obrador had not yet sent his second list, but he did mention one person who will not be on it during his morning press conference. He said that Mexico City Attorney General Ernestina Godoy would not be in the second round when a reporter asked about her specifically.

“She’s an extraordinary lawyer, a woman with principles, with ideals, honest, the best of the best,” López Obrador said, but made clear that he would not nominate her, “so that there is no speculation.” 

Source : Courthousenews