El Salvador still lacks a constitutional court

Almost 4 months have passed since El Salvador was supposed to have filled vacant seats in the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court.   After the term of 4 of the 5 magistrates in the chamber ended at the end of June, the National Assembly had the role to elect their replacements.   The legislators have thus far been unable to do so.

According to this article in El Faro, the remaining obstacle is a final magistrate to be appointed.   The political parties FMLN and GANA insist that this magistrate be Sonia Cortez de Madriz who is currently the Procuradora General of El Salvador.   She heads an agency of Salvadoran government responsible for representation before the state of children, families, criminal defendants, persons with mental disabilities and others.  If she is not on the slate of the four magistrates named to the Constitutional Chamber, FMLN and GANA say they will not give their votes and the slate will not achieve the necessary 56 votes for election.

The process of choosing a new court has been stuck in this position for months, as ARENA and the other right wing parties refuse to consider adding Cortez de Madriz to the court.  She has also been generally ranked as unqualified by independent groups ranking the 30 candidates from whom magistrates must be chosen.

All of this creates significant uncertainty as El Salvador heads towards the 2019 presidential elections and potentially faces a divided government with an outsider president Nayib Bukele, with shifting coalitions in the National Assembly, and with the make up of El Salvador's highest court still unknown.

Meanwhile, petitions to the court for violations of the constitution and human rights pile up with no magistrates to decide them, delaying, if not denying, justice.