November 5, 2021

Political Thermometer


The Role of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice in Mexican Politics

It is commonly thought, as supported by the rules on the separation of powers, that the Mexican Judiciary has the exclusive responsibility to apply the law and resolve legal disputes. Such position holds that the Judiciary’s duties must be distanced from politics to prevent conflicts between and among the three branches of government. Notwithstanding these precepts, the consolidation of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice as a constitutional court has put the Supreme Court in the national spotlight as an arbiter on important political matters.

The Supreme Court has the authority to resolve conflicts not only as to the constitutionality of general laws, but also the power to review matters arising from the actions of federal, state and municipal authorities, including those of independent constitutional bodies. The resolution of these types of conflicts invariably involves politics.

Recently, a PAN political party congresswoman and former president of the lower Chamber of Deputies, filed a constitutional lawsuit opposing a presidential Decree, based on a prior constitutional amendment, which provides that members of the Armed Forces and Navy may legally conduct public safety activities that were previously reserved to the exclusive jurisdiction of the civil police force.

Prior to that case, the Supreme Court agreed to preside over a constitutional lawsuit opposing Mexico’s proposed electricity reform, which favors the Federal Electricity Commission over the interests of private parties and foreign entities. Such lawsuit was filed by the Federal Antitrust Commission, the independent constitutional agency responsible for regulating antitrust practices in Mexico.  Both cases demonstrate the relevance of the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice, whose authority as a constitutional court allows parties a forum to present a legal defense against political powers, including even against the president of the country. Such cases demonstrate the maturity and democratization of the Mexico’s political system.