Mexico’s Supreme Court elects first female chief justice

MEXICO — Mexico’s Supreme Court on Monday elected the first female chief justice in its history.

Judge Norma Lucía Piña was sworn in for her four-year term as head of the 11-member tribunal, pledging to uphold the independence of the nation’s highest court.

“Judicial independence is essential for resolving conflicts between branches of government,” Piña said Monday as he outlined his plans. “My main proposal is to work to build majorities, leaving aside my personal vision.”

As Chief Justice, Piña will also lead the entire judiciary. She is not seen as an ally of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and opposition parties have hailed her election.

The 6-5 vote by his fellow ministers on Monday came despite pressure from López Obrador on the ministers.

López Obrador had backed another female judge, Yasmín Esquivel, for the top job. But indications emerged recently that Judge Esquivel plagiarized an academic paper to earn her bachelor’s degree in the late 1980s.

The public university where she earned the degree is still investigating the case; his thesis, presented in 1987, was identical to that presented a year earlier. Esquivel claimed that the earlier thesis copied his later work.

The president pushed a number of controversial laws through Congress, only to see them blocked by the courts, and electing an ally as chief justice was considered essential for López Obrador.

On Monday, he claimed that “the judiciary has been kidnapped…has been eclipsed by money, by economic power.”

However, Senator Olga Cordero, former interior secretary to López Obrador, welcomed Piña’s election.

“Now is the time for human rights, the time for women,” Cordero wrote on his social media accounts.


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