Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) is the highest body of enforcement and construction of the national Constitution. In respect of “human rights,” it has the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) as higher court. The latter, at the SCJN’s sole discretion, was adopted during July 2011 and published on October 4 of the same year, when the SCJN resolved to subject itself unconditionally to the decrees of the I/A Court H.R.
The SCJN was created according to the 1824 Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States, under the name of “Supreme Court of Justice,” with immediate influence from the Supreme Court established according to the Constitution of the United States of America in 1789; especially pursuant to article III, section 1.
The first Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico was established on March 15, 1825. Since 1843, it was called the “Supreme Court of Justice.” And nowadays, its official name is the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.
The Mexican Supreme Court is integrated by 11 judges known as “ministers,” word used in a strange manner, by the way, to refer to the highest dignitaries in charge of the administration of justice in Mexico, since it comes from the Latin word minister (that is, servant), which also has its origins in minus (less). It is worth remembering that in the Unites States of America they receive the name of justices.
The SCJN has a President who holds office for 4 years, and who is elected by his own peers.
It can function in Plenary or in Chambers. The Plenary is integrated by 11 ministers, including the President; in as much there are 2 Chambers, each one integrated by 5 ministers. Each Chamber has its own President, who is elected by his own peers and holds office for 2 years. In turn, the First Chamber takes over civil and penal issues, while the Second Chamber is in charge of administrative and labor matters.
The system of jurisdiction of the SCJN is quite complex, since it is disseminated in the Federal Constitution, in the Law of Amparo (see What is the Mexican Amparo? also under this section), in the Organic Law of the Judicial Power of the Federation, and very importantly, in the rules issued by the SCJN’s Plenary.
However… What issues is the SCJN responsible for specifically? We will address them in a subsequent installment.