Rejection of magistrate brings avalanche of backers

The roof seems to have fallen in on lawmakers who voted Thursday to fire a sitting magistrate.

The magistrate, Fernando Cruz Castro, sits on the Sala IV, the constitutional court, and has been a key figure in a number of controversial decisions.

A coalition led by the Partido Liberación Nacional fielded the 38 votes required to reject reappointing Cruz to another eight-year term.

The reasons given were thin, and the left-leaning Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados called them pathetic and said that the decision was an end to judicial independence. Magistrates seldom have been deposed in Costa Rica.

A number of developments may keep Cruz in his job. A march is planned by supporters for Thursday. Three persons already have filed appeals with the same Sala IV. And lawmakers today might be asked to reverse the vote. Several supports have questioned the technicalities relating to the vote with an eye towards finding that the lawmakers made a fatal error under the rules of the Asamblea Legislativa.

Cruz has been described as independent.

Rodrigo Arias, the brother of the former president and a presidential candidate himself, issued a denial Friday that said the negative vote for Cruz was not a maneuver on his part.

No one disputes that the legislature has a legal right to reject a magistrate although some question the philosophy of how that policy was developed.

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