December 5, 2013
Top Court: some reforms can’t be applied
In what seems to be an endless controversy among the government and the Supreme Court, the highest tribunal yesterday delivered three administrative resolutions regarding the judicial reform package sponsored by the Kirchnerite administration and considered that some articles of the laws approved could not be applied.
In May, Kirchnerite lawmakers passed a six-law package concerning the judicial reform. For the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration the first obstacle appeared in June, when the Supreme Court considered that the reform of the Magistrates Council, which established that members seeking to obtain a seat at the organ in charge of the selection of judges would be popularly elected, was not constitutional. Since then, a conflict broke out between the two state branches and the final battle will be the ruling on the Media Law, that pitted face to face the government and the Clarín media group.
Yesterday, the Justices referred to the less controversial laws passed in the so-called judicial reform package.
Regarding the law that established that the Supreme Court and the second instance tribunals should publish their resolutions, the highest tribunal reminded that that measure was already in progress and that was the reason why the Public Communication office was created in order to assure transparency.
Justices also said that on May 21, the same day that Law 26,856 was enacted, they delivered an administrative resolution with a broader effect than the law itself, which established that the Supreme Court and all the tribunal’s rulings should be spread through the Judicial Information Centre (CIJ).
However, the justices did not agree to report in advance when they are going to gather and what issues will be discussed then, as the law obliges, because that resolution “invades the Court’s inner and exclusive sphere.”
In the administrative resolution No. 25 regarding the affidavits that should be submitted by members of the Judiciary, the Justices expressed their deepest concerns.
“All public officials working in every branch of the state should publish their affidavits,” the Justices agreed, but they added: “It is not admissible that the affidavits of those working in judiciary are controlled by public administration officials. That situation means a violation of the independence of the branches.”
Due to this, the Justices decided that Article 6 from Law 26,857 cannot be applied because it establishes that affidavits should be submitted to the Anti-Corruption Office from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, so they decided that the Supreme Court should be the public enforcer.
Part of the discussion with the President has focussed on the transparency of judge’s assets. Last month, Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti reported that the AFIP tax bureau was investigating him and two of his sons, a situation that was condemned by opposition leaders and some media as part of an alleged “persecution” against the members of the highest court after an adverse ruling.
Yesterday the Supreme Court decided that the affidavits should be published on the Court’s website but not given to the Justice Ministry.
The last administrative resolution referred to Law 26,861, which established the “democratic entry” of personnel to the Judiciary.
According to the Justices, that law cannot be implemented at the highest tribunal because in Article 113 of the National Constitution, it is said that the Supreme Court shall issue its own internal regulations and appoint its subordinate employees.
Justices called for a commission combining the Executive, the Congress, the Attorney General’s office and the Judiciary to discuss the “democratic and egalitarian conditions to become public servants.”
According to the law, cleaning-staff, people at positions of lower hierarchy as well as lawyers should go through public contest and it also says that authorities should conform lists in order of merit of those who passed their examinations. Before those lists are arranged, personnel will be appointed temporarily, following the Supreme Court yesterday’s resolution.