Supreme Court Magistrates Again Draw Fire for Overstepping Roles

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On July 25th, four of the five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court provoked outcry when they signed a statement demanding the rejection of a citizen’s lawsuit that challenged the legality of their own seats on the bench. The suit sits before the Court’s Administrative Disputes Chamber and questions the 2009 elections of 10 Supreme Court magistrates by the National Legislative Assembly.

The four magistrates—popularly known as the “Fantastic Four”— have drawn frequent criticism for overstepping their judicial roles in a series of recent controversial rulings. Their signed order has no legal mandate, and magistrate Lolly Claros, President of the Administrative Disputes Chamber, called the statement “a total intrusion;" her colleague, magistrate José Roberto Argueta, deemed it “a troubling violation of judicial independence.”

 Meanwhile, the Constitutional Chamber has accepted two cases challenging the 2012 election of magistrate Salomón Padilla, President of both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Chamber in which he serves, in part for his personal political affiliation with the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party. Padilla has regularly been the lone opposition to decisions made by the “Fantastic Four.” FMLN Legislator and President of the Legislative Assembly Sigfrido Reyes criticized the magistrates’ decision to accept the challenges against Padilla, calling it “a huge paradox that those who entered [the Court] illegally judge someone who has legitimacy.”

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