December 12, 2013
Following decisionWednesday, October 30, 2013
Dawn of a new relationship between Court and gov’t?
Until President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner recovers from her recent head surgery, Boudou remains the most important Kirchnerite voice and yesterday seemed to have proficiently memorized the script he was given. He accused the media of holding the real power in the country and of having delayed the law’s implementation for the same time that a government is in office: four years.
Journalists working for dailies Clarín and La Nación have raised questions about the government pressuring the Court to deliver a swift and favourable ruling on the law that has divided the national political arena.
“Nothing like that happened,” a court source told the Herald. Rumours indicated that a top Executive official might have phoned Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti to demand a swift ruling immediately after the midterms on Sunday, when Kirchnerism was defeated in the main districts of the country, including Buenos Aires province.
However, evidence indicates that the Supreme Court did not respond to the government, having squashed the so-called judicial reforms sponsored by the Kirchnerite administration four months ago.
One of the decisions that granted former president Néstor Kirchner the support from progressive sectors and human rights advocates was the reshuffle of the rusty Supreme Court, identified with the so-called “automatic majority” enjoyed by former president Carlos Menem. The highest tribunal — aligned with the Executive — was publicly seen as corrupt and illegitimate.
With the appointment of Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti, Justices Elena Highton de Nolasco, Carmen Argibay and Eugenio Zaffaroni, that view changed.
In June, justices declared the unconstitutionality of the Magistrates Council reform, which sought the democratic election of councillors, who are responsible for the appointment of judges. This marked the outbreak of war between the Executive and the Judiciary.
At a rally, the president recalled the justices’ political records, specifically targetting 95-year old Justice Carlos Fayt for not having retired when justices should do so at 75.
After months of no dialogue between the two branches of government, Lorenzetti and Justice Minister Julio Alak met to resume the debate over the Civil and Commercial Code reform in Congress, authored by the chief justice. Justice Eugenio Zaffaroni was in charge of drafting a new Criminal Code bill and sources from his team told the Herald that the bill was ready to be handed over to the president. However, the presentation might be postponed until after she resumes her duties.
Last week, Justices issued an injunction to prevent elections for governor from taking place in Santiago del Estero province, where Governor Gerardo Zamora, a Kirchnerite-aligned Radical Party (UCR) member, was aiming to run for a third term in office.
“Nobody can say that we are following the government’s instructions. Last week, the government might have not liked our decision regarding Zamora,” a court source said.
In July, the Media Law reached the highest tribunal and a month later, justices called for two public hearings between the two parties involved, the government and the Clarín Group, along with organizations supporting their positions. The Supreme Court appeared to be the main winner, not only due to the relevance of its questions but also for putting such a controversial issue in the spotlight, for public debate.
Will a new relationship dawn between the Executive and the Supreme Court? This is impossible to foresee. The good thing is that neither the government nor opposition are always pleased with their rulings.