Saturday, February 13, 2010

MAS gives Evo Absolute Power to Name Judges

February 12th, the Movement to Socialism controlled senate has passed a bill called the "Ley Corta" or "Short Law" that allows President Evo Morales to name interim judges to fill any vacancies including those on the Supreme Court and Constitutional Tribunal.
The Opposition parties in the senate decried this new law as an unconstitutional power play but did not have enough votes to prevent its passage.  Movement to Socialism (MAS) party members defend the law as necessary to avoid a collapse in the judicial system which currently has a backlog of over 10,000 cases in part due to the inability of the national congress to appoint interim judges. Formerly, only the national congress had the power to appoint vacant judicial positions and now that power will be placed directly in the hands of the Bolivian President.   MAS congresswoman Rebeca Delgado announced to the press that the party expects Evo to appoints six members to the Supreme Court, 4 to the Judicial Tribunal and 10 to the Constitutional Tribunal.

The mayority of the vacancies are due to resignations of judges for corruption and due to pending lawsuits against them such as ex-president of the Supreme Court Justice Eddy Fernández who was suspended after being accused of intentionally delaying certain cases.

The opposition senators held a press conference citing five major problems with this new law. Their primary concern was a clear erosion of the separation of the executive and judicial branches of government which is mandated in article 12 of Bolivia's new Constitution.  Tomás Monasterios, a congressman from the center-right Plan Progreso party announced that his party will begin a lawsuit because the new law is clearly unconstitutional even as defined by the new Constitution that the MAS party forced into effect. Another Plan Progreso senator Germán Antelo announced that the new law was totally unconstitutional.  The Bolivian senate is set to approve the Short Law today.

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