Only for the Supremes

For the past two weeks, I have been discussing the controversy over judicial appointments in the Philippines. I, along with the Arroyo administration and the rest of the country, believed the Supreme Court’s decision in De Castro v. JBC created an exception to the 1987 Constitution‘s prohibition on “midnight appointments” for all judicial appointments. However, yesterday, according to the Philippine Inquirer, the Supreme Court clarified that its ruling was restricted to Supreme Court appointments and did not necessarily allow the president to appoint lower court judges. This certainly isn’t obvious from reading the case itself (which generally refers to the “Judiciary”). In fact, much of the court’s reasoning seemed based upon distinguishing the Judiciary from the Executive. I wonder if the Supreme Court is backtracking due to the public backlash. It would make sense strategically to widen the scope of the Supreme Court’s powers and ability to get a Chief Justice, while limiting the presidency’s powers – especially when Aquino’s lead in the latest SWS polls has widened.

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