The acting General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) continues with the procedures to make appointments despite congressional endorsement to the reform that will prevent him from making appointments of judges with the expired mandate, which only has to pass through the Senate to become a reality. As reported by the CGPJ, in the next three weeks ten candidates for two vacant positions of magistrate of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court will appear before the Permanent Commission.
Congress approves the reform that removes powers from the acting Judiciary
These places will not be awarded in any case in the plenary session on March 25 because their processing – which includes interviews with applicants – will not be completed on that date and will run until the 30th of this month. In addition, the president of the CGPJ, Carlos Lesmes, has conveyed to the members of the Permanent Commission – the hard core of the institution – his intention not to bring more appointments to the Plenary of the CGPJ, as he has advanced The Spanish and confirmed elDiario.es.
However, the members have the right to formulate written proposals and to include them on the agenda of the Board meetings, according to article 18.5 of the General Regulations for the Organization and Operation of the CGPJ. In other words, some of its members could request a debate on possible appointments. In the last plenary session, held on March 4 with an extraordinary character, were approved for a minimum of six appointments in the judicial leadership, although there was no consensus to adjudicate two other positions in contention in the Supreme Court that they were ready to adjudicate. Both proposals for appointments were removed from the agenda. The reform that will imitate the acting CGPJ will foreseeably enter into force in April.
Appointments to the Supreme Court are considered especially sensitive because these positions, except for resignation, are maintained until retirement, set for judges and magistrates at 72 years of age. The current CGPJ, formed in December 2013, when Mariano Rajoy ruled with an absolute majority, has 11 members proposed by the PP, seven by the PSOE, one by the United Left, and another by the PNV, a composition that is far from the current distribution of forces in the Congress of Deputies.
Last Thursday, Congress gave the green light with the vote against PP, Vox and Ciudadanos to the reform that will restrict the ability of the CGPJ to make appointments to the judicial leadership with the expired mandate. Since its mandate expired in December 2018, the Council has awarded 74 key positions in the judicial leadership. The last ones, on March 4. The Government partners defend that the objective of this reform is to end a legal vacuum, since currently the only competence that the CGPJ in office cannot exercise is to appoint a new president. It is, they maintain, a “democratic anomaly” that does not occur with the other powers of the State.
The three rights, however, see in this legislative amendment an “interference” in the separation of powers and judicial independence and state that it makes no sense to limit the powers of the governing body of judges when the problem is, in their opinion, the current system of election of its twenty members. During last week’s debate in Congress, they widely criticized its urgent processing outside the regular session and that it is an “orphan” text of legal reports.
The reform to regulate their interim status has also raised the tension between the two powers of the State. The governing body of the judges, with the backing of 16 of its 21 members, accused PSOE and United We Can of breaking the “separation of powers” by expressly removing powers from it and both parties – through the Congressional Board, where they have a majority— they responded by asking for “respect” for their ability to legislate. This reform is expected to be approved by Congress on March 11, although the final vote in the Senate would be lacking.