La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

An increasing role for the Mexican Supreme Court?

I don't study courts, nor has the Mexican Supreme Court ever seemed like something worth studying. The Mexican Supreme Court has been like most other courts in Latin America, weak compared to the other branches of government. However, I've noticed over the months that I've been here that political actors are regularly appealing to the court to intervene in legal (but really political) disputes.

For instance, the government passed a law last August which essentially overrode the pension provisions of the labor contract of the workers of the national social security institute. The union is strong, independent (sort of), and has fiercely opposed efforts to privatize medical services. The union also has very generous pension benefits. Unable negotiate reductions in these benefits, the government passed a law which would effectively limit pension benefits. The union has appealed the case in the court system, claiming that Congress can not overturn benefits negotiated in a labor contract. I mentioned it briefly before.

Another example. According to labor law, government employees must all belong to one labor federation: the FSTSE. The FSTSE is an official union allied with the PRI, and has been, quite frankly, a poor defender of workers' interests. A leader of one of the teachers' unions, a member union of FSTSE, began organizing a dissident union, la FEDESSP. This leader also happens to be the Secretary General of the PRI and does not get along with the President of the PRI either. As far as I can tell, she doesn't get along with many people. She organized the FEDESSP and the Secretary of Labor under the Fox administration granted them legal status, contrary to labor law. The case was considered by the Supreme Court, and they ruled the labor law requiring all government workers to belong to the same Federation unconstitutional.

Since the new Federation (FEDESSP) claims to represent 8 of 10 government workers, it then proceeded to sue the FSTSE for its land, offices, and other property, claiming that the property should be transferred to the new Federation. I mentioned this court case before.

Which....brings us to the latest case. The Mexico City general assembly has gone to the Supreme Court to claim that the Chamber of Deputies violated the Mexican Constitution when they stripped the Mayor of his immunity. The Deputies are countering the claims in front of the court. The court is apparently divided over the issue. Even before the desafuero, the court had its doubts.

posted by Michelle @ 12:31 PM,


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