NPP House caucus asks Senate to consider Supreme Court nomination
By John McPhaul
The New Progressive Party (NPP) caucus in the island House of Representatives, led by its spokesman, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez, approved on Tuesday a resolution aimed at asking the Senate to evaluate on its merits the appointment of Judge Roberto Rodríguez Casillas as an associate justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.
“The NPP caucus endorsed yesterday, Monday, a request from the colleague and former speaker of the House, José Aponte, to ask the Senate to evaluate the nomination of Judge Rodríguez Casillas to occupy the seat of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,” Méndez Núñez said in a written statement. “The least the Senate, which has dragged its feet on confirming many of the governor’s nominees, could do is provide this nominee with a fair and open process. That is what we ask for, public hearings and a serious evaluation.”
On Sunday, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced the nomination of Rodríguez Casillas, who currently holds a position on the Court of Appeals, to fill the vacancy of associate justice of the highest judicial forum on the island.
Senate President José Luis Dalmau, who is also president of the Popular Democratic Party, refused to take up the nomination, saying it was “not a priority” for the Senate.
“The Puerto Rico Constitution in its Article 5, Section 8, establishes that it is the governor who determines, by the nomination of people, to fill vacancies in positions such as that of the Supreme Court,” Aponte said. “Nowhere in the Constitution is it established that the Senate determines when a vacancy is filled. It is only up to the senators to provide advice and consent once the nominees are evaluated on their merits.”
“What should happen is that the process takes place in the Senate, to which the nominee himself has stated that he is available to undergo his evaluation,” the former House speaker added. “Failure to do this represents wanting to take control of what the Constitution does not confer on you. It is an overreach of power.”