These are key days for the Supreme Court of Justice, pulled between the temptation of political speculation and the risk of losing institutional authority with its incomprehensible silences. The controversy over the opening of Buenos Aires schools in front of Alberto Fernández’s DNU, which closed them for two weeks, is the last -extreme- episode of a saga in whose course the Court has been losing shreds of prestige. After noon on Monday, an electric shock made her react.
After the opinion of the Attorney General’s Office, and while it was being discussed how many days the government would be given to respond, the highest court suddenly swerved: by four votes to one – from Dr. Elena Highton – it accepted his decision. original competence to deal with the claim of the Buenos Aires government, warned that the matter “will be substantiated by the rules of the summary process, for a period of five days” and left without effect “the communication to the Procuración del Tesoro de la Nación ordered on April 16 of the current year “. That is to say on Friday.
It was said and repeated: the ministers of the highest court escape like cats before the water to any attempt to be used as a token of arbitration to settle political differences. That is healthy and desirable. But not always sustainable.
The confrontational dynamics that have dominated the links between the ruling party and the opposition for years -even when those roles were reversed under the presidency of Mauricio Macri- immediately escalated to the courts: lack of consensus for big decisions -and also the small ones- first it reaches Congress as a legislative fight, and if it is not resolved there, it crystallizes in decrees of necessity and urgency whose greater or lesser “arbitrariness” it is discussed in court. More or less fast.
This vicious circuit has accelerated its speed in recent months, exposing more and more the inability of the entire Argentine leadership to trace minimum state policies and base its resolutions on hard information that is not distorted – or omitted – by the prism of political needs. Or worse: of the projects or personal rancor of the officials.
The untimely DNU with which Alberto Fernández closed the AMBA classrooms tightly against all the data, analysis, statistics and opinions of experts, sanitarians and his own ministers, shattered the thin ice on which the measures to support face the very serious second wave of coronavirus in the country.
Horacio Rodríguez Larreta played his only card: go to Court to annul that decree in the chapter concerning Buenos Aires schools. But the message from his bottle fell into a sea ravaged by turbulent currents. The five ministers of the Court barely maintain the minimum institutional dialogue necessary to “bring out” the less hot topics and get the car moving, but there is no sacred fire between them to challenge them in their role as head of one of the three powers of the State, desperately in need of leadership.
Court does not have legal deadlines to be issued, that is to say, to take up the issue, to resolve the request to leave or not the schools functioned, or to answer the substantive question regarding the authority or not of a president to decide on matters of provincial authority, and with what arguments it should justify it.
But that temporary power also exposes the will of the Court to take the bull by the antlers or the more speculative to remain seated on the stretcher while the bullfighter fights alone on the sand. That key gesture – that only opportunity to make a first impression, as Julio Blanck recalled – is a first message to the contenders -Alberto and Larreta- but also to all lower judges and courts, and ultimately to all Argentines.
And you don’t have to be a cryptographer to understand the message: on the fourth floor of the palace on Calle Talcahuano there is no eagerness to commit to the topic that keeps the country in suspense. Cold institutional calculation, so as not to be dragged down by the temporary demands of politicians. Or shyness for courage, as would also remember the unique Blanck.
The news said Monday that the internal discussion was about how many hours of term would be given to the Procuration of the Treasury commanded by Carlos Zannini to respond to the “transfer” – the notification that the Court is analyzing the matter after an opinion of the attorney general – that will be sent to him during the day. 48 hours? 72? Five days? Those are the options. More or less like studying if the lamps of the Titanic should be 50, 75 or 100 watts.
Whatever the time period assigned, Zannini will respond almost immediately, because his interest is to fence the classrooms that the Buenos Aires justice ordered to open this Sunday. But even if his brief returns to the Court on Wednesday, it is difficult for the court ministers to coordinate their work to deliver a resolution before the weekend. Impossible? No. But unlikely.
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