The crisis broke out in June, when the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber ruled that the National Assembly’s election of judges to the Supreme Court in 2006 and in 2012 had been unconstitutional. In both instances, the members of the legislature had voted on court members twice in a three-year session. As Tim’s El Salvador Blog sets out, this meant that two thirds of the Supreme Court judges would be illegitimate. The legislature could have held new elections, but “refused to go along with this attack on its powers,” choosing instead to appeal the Central American Court of Justice (CACJ).
The CACJ ruled in favor of the legislature, but the Constitutional Chamber rejected the decision, saying that it was the highest authority on constitutional matters.
Funes announced Sunday that the political parties had reached an agreement that those judges elected in 2009 would stay in place, while those from 2006 and 2012 would be re-elected. Supreme Court president Ovidio Bonilla will be replaced by Jose Salomon Padilla.
El Faro reports that the talks began on July 24, spurred by pressure from the US Congress and State Department, after two US senators called on the Obama administration to consider cutting aid to El Salvador.
Members of the FMLN ruling party had wanted Bonilla, elected by the legislature in April, to stay in place, and the removal of at least one of the Constitutional Chamber’s magistrates, according to El Faro.
As El Faro sets out, on July 16 Bonilla declared that he was taking over a Supreme Court president, breaking in to the court with the help of a locksmith. This meant that the court had two people claiming to be its head, with Florentin Melendez in the position of interim president. Bonilla’s replacement, Salomon, is also close to the FMLN.
This deal may not resolve the frictions between the legislature and judiciary. As WOLA pointed out in July, "Underlying the immediate crisis is the challenge posed to all the political parties by the newly independent and activist bloc of judges on the constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court."
More from Confidencial, La Pagina
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