Supreme Court of Argentina
The Supreme Court functions as a last resort tribunal. Its rulings cannot be appealed. It also decides on cases dealing with the interpretation of the constitution (for example, it can overturn a law passed by Congress if it deems it unconstitutional).
The members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President and can only be removed by an
impeachmentprocess called "juicio político" ("political trial"), carried out by the Senate, exclusively on grounds of improper behaviour.
The current composition of the Supreme Court is as follows:
* President: Dr.
Ricardo Luis Lorenzetti.
* Vice-President: Dra.
Elena I. Highton de Nolasco.
* Justices: Dr.
Carlos S. Fayt, Dr. Juan Carlos Maqueda, Dr. Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni, Dr. Enrique Santiago Petracchi, Dra. Carmen María Argibay.
Argentina's highest court was expanded from five to nine members by President
Carlos Menem, who chose the four new justices. During the 1990s, the Court was heavily criticized because it showed lack of independence from the Executive Branch in certain cases; several of its justices were accused of forming an "automatic majority", who consistently agreed on votes having to do with interests of the administration.
In the 2000s, since the interim presidency of
Eduardo Duhaldeand especially during the term of Néstor Kirchnerwhich started in 2003, all members of this "majority" have either been removed or resigned. Dr. Antonio Boggiano, the last of these, was removed on 29 September 2005. Not all justices were replaced, so there were still two vacancies.
19 June 2003, by presidential decree, candidates for a seat in the Supreme Court must be presented by the Executive Branch for consideration. The curriculum of the nominee (or nominees) must be made public and advertised on the [http://www.jus.gov.ar/ website of the Ministry of Justice] , and can be discussed in the media and elsewhere by NGOs, professional law associations, academic and human rightsgroups, and all citizens in general. After three months, the President, with this advice, can then choose to present the nominee to the Argentine Senate, which must decide on the nomination, needing at least a two-thirds majority for a positive vote.
At times, and for the last time near the end of 2006, several justices complained that the President's delay in appointing the two vacancies in the Court was problematic, because a nominally nine-member Court needs a majority of five to sign consensual decissions, and demanded that either replacements were appointed for former justices Augusto Belluscio and Antonio Boggiano (as required by law), or that Congress pass a law reducing the Court to seven justices (thus reducing the majority to four). [Clarín, 9 November 2006. [http://www.clarin.com/diario/2006/11/09/elpais/p-01001.htm Desde el Senado, el kirchnerismo respondió a las quejas de la Corte] .] On
9 November 2006Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner(the President's wife) presented a legislative bill to repeal Law 24774, which dictated the increase to nine justices, in order to eventually return to the original number of five. Most of the members of the Court welcomed this project. [Clarín, 11 November 2006. [http://www.clarin.com/diario/2006/11/11/elpais/p-00601.htm "El proyecto de Cristina Kirchner es un salto en la calidad institucional"] .]
The renewal of the Supreme Court in the first years of the Kirchner administration was advertised and is usually acknowledged as a positive step, bringing more independence to the Judicial Branch and addressing issues of ideological bias. Until mid-
2004all justices were male, most were devout Catholics, and they were considered conservative. In contrast, the two most recently appointed justices (Elena Highton and Carmen Argibay) are female; Argibay is a self-professed feminist, a militant atheist, and supports the legalization of abortion in Argentina. Eugenio Zaffaroni (the first to be designated through the public nomination method) is viewed as a politically center-left-wing guarantist Justice.
* [http://www.csjn.gov.ar/ Official website] of the Argentine Supreme Court.
* [http://www.jus.gov.ar/ Ministry of Justice] .
* On the newer justices:
** [http://americas.irc-online.org/articles/2003/0309kirchner_body.html Argentine President's First 100 Days Break From 30 Years of Business-As-Usual] - The renewal process sponsored by the Kirchner administration.
** Eugenio Zaffaroni:
*** [http://www.narconews.com/Issue30/article807.html Drug Policy Reformer Nominated to Supreme Court in Argentina] - The Narco News Bulletin (against the Drug War), 2 July 2003.
** Elena Highton:
*** [http://origin.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?template=&id=56299&callid=1 Argentina gets first female Chief Justice] - NDTV.com, 29 June 2004.
*** [http://buenosairesherald.com/editorial/editorial_spanish_note.jsp?idContent=54831 The new Supreme Court member] - Buenos Aires Herald.
** Carmen Argibay:
*** [http://ipsnews.net/africa/print.asp?idnews=22030 ARGENTINA: Single Woman, Atheist, Heads to Seat on High Court] - Inter Press Service News, 21 January 2005. Comments and interview.
*** [http://atheism.about.com/b/a/059736.htm Female Atheist to Head Argentina's High Court?] - About.com, 23 January 2004.
*** [http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/feb/04021006.html Argentine President Proposes Self-Described "Militant Atheist" for Supreme Court] - LifeSiteNews.com, 10 February 2004.
* [http://www.csjn.gov.ar/ Oficial Site (spanish)]
* [http://vlex.com/source/1680 Case law of the Supreme Court of Argentina]
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