The Board of Congress – with the votes in favor of the PSOE and United We Can – has agreed that the reform that seeks to limit the powers of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) when it is in office, as has happened today for more than Two years, it is processed by the emergency route, which implies reducing all terms by half. This reform, backed by the reinforced majority of the investiture, aims to prevent an interim Council from making discretionary appointments such as those he plans to continue doing in the plenary session on January 28. There are already 61 since December 2018, when his term expired.
The Judiciary requests that Congress allow it to examine the reform of the PSOE and Podemos that intends to take away powers in office
Likewise, the governing body of the Chamber has denied the request made on December 17 by a divided CGPJ to have an opinion on that bill. Sixteen of the 21 members of the Plenary – the eleven conservatives and four progressives, plus the president, Carlos Lesmes – agreed to ask Congress to collect their report and that of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe before approving that proposal. The other five members, all from the progressive minority, called for the Council’s resignation en bloc to force its renewal. The PP presented a similar request that has also been rejected with the votes of PSOE and United We Can.
The Organic Law of the Judicial Power establishes in its article 561.1 that the draft laws and general provisions that deal with modifications of the norm that regulate the Judicial Power will be submitted to a report by the CGPJ. However, this reform has been proposed as proposition of law of the parliamentary groups of PSOE and United We Can, a modality that does not require that prior control.
In their report, the lawyers of the Chamber do not oppose, however, the CGPJ expressing its opinion on the legal amendment. Of course, they specify that the decision to request documentation or appearances on a legislative initiative is not made by the Board, but by the Justice Commission chaired by the socialist Isaura Leal, reports Europa Press.
Once the emergency procedure has been approved, which PP and Vox have opposed, the Chamber Board has set a period of eight business days – taking into account the month of January – for the presentation of amendments to the Proposal of law, which was taken into consideration by the Plenary on December 15. The groups that oppose it – PP, Vox and Ciudadanos – will have a second chance to try to stop it or, at least, delay its processing. Of course, in order to do so, they will have to present a complete amendment with alternative text, which would force a new debate to be held in plenary, already in February, before being able to send the text to the Justice Commission.
Meanwhile, the CGPJ intends to continue making key appointments to the top of the main courts. The Permanent Commission – of which the president, Carlos Lesmes, and seven other members are part – is interviewing the candidates to occupy the presidencies of eight Provincial Courts and of the Social Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Balearic Islands this Wednesday and tomorrow Thursday . These members will elect the shortlist of applicants on which the next Plenary Session will foreseeably decide, which will take place on January 28.
In addition, on December 22, the Permanent Commission agreed to announce in the Official State Gazette the summons of two positions for magistrate or magistrate in the First Chamber of the Supreme Court, corresponding to the general shift and vacant due to retirement last November, Justices Antonio Salas Carceller and Eduardo Baena Ruiz. In the High Court the appointments, in practice, are for life.
Lesmes, who was a senior position in the governments of José María Aznar, made it clear last September in his speech at the solemn ceremony for the Opening of the Judicial Year that appointments to the judicial leadership should continue to develop “normally.” “The opposite would be to breach the fundamental rule itself,” he said then. In the September plenary session six places were awarded in the Supreme and in October another eight. Among them, the presidencies of the TSJ of the Balearic Islands and Cantabria.
Given the progress of the negotiations for the renewal, Lesmes conveyed to the members his intention to paralyze the appointments. In fact, in the plenary session in November only two positions were awarded in the military jurisdiction and no new calls were promoted. Later, in the absence of progress on the open path between the PSOE and the PP, he decided to resume them. At the December plenary session, it awarded another four places.
CGPJ sources recall that the Appointment Regulations establishes that vacancies have to be published in the BOE “immediately after they occur” and that the Council has to resolve “within a maximum period of six months.” In the more than two years that the governing body of judges has expired, 61 high-level positions have been awarded in the main courts. 18 of them in the Supreme Court, three in the National Court, 23 in the autonomous superior courts and 17 in provincial courts.