Mexico Elects First Female Supreme Court President: Justice Norma Lucia Pina Makes History

Mexico Elects First Female Supreme Court President: Justice Norma Lucia Pina Makes History
đź“· Justice Norma Lucia Pina Hernandez is sworn in as the first female president of Mexico's Supreme Court on January 2, 2023 in Mexico City. (Image: Reuters)

Mexico’s Supreme Court has chosen a woman to head the country’s highest judicial body for the first time ever. After a six-to-five vote on Monday, Justice Norma Lucia Pina was sworn in as president of the court for a four-year term, during which she has pledged to maintain the court’s independence. Pina stated that “judicial independence is crucial in resolving conflicts between the branches of government” and that her main goal is to work towards building consensus rather than imposing her personal views.

Pina’s election as head of the Supreme Court of Mexico may lead to increased conflict with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his administration, particularly on issues such as energy policy. The two have previously clashed, and Lopez Obrador has had a strained relationship with the court, openly opposing their decisions and criticizing their actions, including when they overturned part of his “jail, no bail” policy.

Mexico’s Supreme Court holds presidential elections every four years. President Arturo Zaldivar’s term ends on December 31, so outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador supported Justice Yasmin Esquivel as his successor, hoping for a more sympathetic leader. However, Esquivel faced controversy when it was revealed that she had potentially plagiarized her college thesis. The university where she received her bachelor’s degree is currently investigating the issue. Esquivel claims that the earlier thesis copied her work. President Lopez Obrador has dismissed the allegations against Esquivel as politically motivated and claimed that the country’s judicial system is influenced by money and economic power.

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On the other hand, Pina’s appointment has been praised by opposition members, including conservative politician Kenia Lopez Rabadan, who called for the Court to show independence, impartiality, objectivity, and professionalism in the face of a president who allegedly violates the Constitution. Some officials close to Lopez Obrador have also welcomed Pina’s election, with Senator Olga Cordero stating that it is now the time for human rights and women.

Pina, who will be responsible for the entire judicial branch in Mexico, has supported the country’s shift towards renewable energy sources. This position has caused conflict with Lopez Obrador, who has advocated for more control of the energy sector by national power company CFE and state oil company Pemex. Lopez Obrador has claimed that previous administrations favored private companies and has made greater state control of the energy sector a key part of his economic plans. However, the Supreme Court in Mexico has blocked some of these efforts, including a plan to give CFE priority in connecting power plants to the grid.

The court made a decision based on the constitutional requirement to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. Lopez Obrador’s energy policies have caused disagreement with the US and Canada, who claim that the policies unfairly harm US-based companies and go against trade agreements in the region. This international conflict led to the economy minister of Mexico resigning in October over concerns that Mexico could face tariffs as a punishment.

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