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Vance Center’s Lawyers Council Calls on the Mexican Legal Community to Participate Actively in the Process to Appoint a New Supreme Court Justice

Although the process to appoint Justices of the Mexican Supreme Court is entrusted under the Constitution of the United Mexican States to the discretion of the Federal Executive and the Senate of the Republic, the process must follow relevant international and regional standards, according to a report by the Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. The document “Considerations for the process of appointing Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice in Mexico,” available in Spanish, delineates these standards for selecting members of the judiciary, describes similar experiences in other countries of the region, and makes recommendations to strengthen the process.

In December 2021, Justice José Fernando Franco-González-Salas will conclude his 15-year term on the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice. The importance of the Court as the highest legal body in Mexico makes this a significant event for the rule of law in the country. The Supreme Court decides matters of national importance, defining the content and scope of human rights and the balance between powers at the different levels of government. It is also relevant to the business climate in the country. According to S. Todd Crider, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York and member of the Lawyers Council, “a good business environment will depend on the legal certainty derived from a strong judiciary with independent judges that is able to guarantee the full exercise of civil and economic rights.”

As part of the constitutional process of judicial selection, the President will propose a three-person shortlist to the Senate. After a review and hearing process, the Senate will appoint one of the three to succeed Justice Franco-González-Salas. The Lawyers Council document analyzes each of the stages of the process and offers recommendations, based on standards of the Inter-American System on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights System, and on comparative experience to strengthen the process following transparency and open participation standards.

According to Antonia Stolper, Vance Center Committee Vice Chair for Latin America, member of the Lawyers Council and preeminent international lawyer, “carrying out an open and robust process that considers lawyers with the best qualifications for the shortlist and allows the legal community and society in general participation will give legitimacy to the process and the Court.”

In the report, the Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights in the Americas calls on the Mexican legal community to participate actively in this process:

  • The Bar Associations and other networks of legal professionals independent of the government should carry out an analysis and review of the profiles of the candidates proposed and provide substantive evaluations.
  • The legal community should encourage the Senate’s Justice Committee to obtain additional input for the consideration and evaluation of the proposed candidates and to carry out an open and transparent process that encourages the participation of the legal community.
  • The legal community should consider organizing its own forums and conversations with the candidates to add additional elements to the discussion.

The Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights brings together private practice law professionals in the Americas to combat corruption and to support the rule of law and the work of civil society. The Lawyers Council consists of 18 lawyers from 14 countries, distinguished in private legal practice nationally and regionally, with demonstrated civic commitment.

Read the call for action and the report here:

About the Vance Center
The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar Association advances global justice by engaging lawyers across borders to support civil society and an ethically active legal profession. The Vance Center is a unique collaboration of international lawyers catalyzing public interest innovation that brings together leading law firms and other partners worldwide to pioneer international justice initiatives and provide pro bono legal representation to social justice NGOs.

About the City Bar
The mission of the New York City Bar Association, which was founded in 1870 and has 25,000 members, is to equip and mobilize a diverse legal profession to practice with excellence, promote reform of the law, and uphold the rule of law and access to justice in support of a fair society and the public interest in our community, our nation, and throughout the world.