Hot of the heels of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who earlier this week disclosed details of his savings as well as his presidential earnings, Ministers of Mexico’s Supreme Court have voluntarily announced a reduction to their salaries by a quarter.
Following a meeting yesterday, justices agreed that ‘‘equal work must correspond to equal wages,’’ according to a subsequent press release, and detailed that ‘‘under the principles of efficiency, effectiveness, economy, transparency and honesty, in the exercise of its independence and budgetary management autonomy,’’ ministers have independently decided to take a 25% reduction to their annual salaries.
The announcement follows on from a number of new austerity measures introduced by the new Morena leadership. There are hopes that the President’s austerity measures will then allow funding to be diverted to other policies and areas that so far have been severely underfunded.
AMLO himself has also taken almost a 50% pay cut to the presidential salary in comparison to his predecessor and announced plans which ensure that no government officials earn higher than the presidential salary.
Mexico’s Supreme Court is the highest judicial branch of the country and has taken a number of high-profile decisions in recent years. Consisting of 11 ministers, the Supreme Court Justices have a fifteen year term and so far just one of the ministers, Juan Luis González Alcántara Carrancá, has been appointed by AMLO. As of recently, the Supreme Court has made rulings which have led to the overturning of Mexico’s controversial Security Law and also deemed two cases of recreational marijuana use as legal and constitutional.
At the end of last year, the Supreme Court faced the wrath of the new president who claimed the justice salaries were actually an ‘injustice’ to the country. “We can’t have a rich government and poor people,” the President pointed out in a statement last year, suggesting that justices earn as much as 600,000 pesos a month (US$29,731) in a country where annual salaries equate to around US$9,000.
Furthermore, recent studies have raised questions about why Mexico’s judicial system is so expensive and why the independent Supreme Court pays such high salaries – roughly equivalent to that of U.S Supreme Court Justice salaries – when the majority of court cases are settled by state judges. Three thousand justice staff and prolonged bureaucratic and administrative processes were just some of the reasons that Animal Politico explained as contributing to Mexico’s Supreme Court budget being 68 billion pesos (US$3.5 billion) last year.
In a final punch delivered to protect sovereignty of the law in the midst of decades of corruption, the Supreme Court concluded: ‘‘measures will be taken to ensure the independence of Magistrates, Judges and all public servants of the Judicial Power of the Federation against other Powers.’’