In the end, the court was left only with Nelson to set up a beachhead on the issue of abusive property seizures. It’s one that sits at the intersection of causes dear to both the liberal justices (rights of criminal suspects) and conservative justices (government interference with property rights), offering the tantalizing prospect of opinions supported by broad coalitions that cross ideological lines on a matter of great public interest. Forfeiture reform has proponents on both sides of the aisle in Congress, so the court likely won’t be accused of legislating from the bench. And it can’t hurt that public opinion shows strong opposition to seizing a person’s property before he or she has been convicted of a crime. The court’s response in these cases should be seen as strong encouragement from the justices to bring them others with well-developed records that allow them to squarely address these constitutional concerns. For those justices who spent the last year working to counter the perception that the Supreme Court should not be seen as an institution as politically polarized as the rest of the country, those cases cannot come fast enough.
But since then, Mujica has been criticized for his role in reproducing conditions of impunity. Many were surprised to see Mujica participate in this year’s " Marcha del Silencio ," a yearly march marking the death of the two most famous "disappeared" politicians, Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz and Zelmar Michelini, who were killed in Buenos Aires during Operation Condor . (The photo above shows marchers carrying portraits of their disappeared relatives.) This year’s march, held on May 20, was themed " ¿Dónde están? ¿Por qué el silencio? " ("Where are they? Why the silence?") to protest the Mujica government’s silence and resistance to issues of human rights accountability. Remaining in the middle of pack, Mujica did little to garner attention. He and his wife arrived without security and trudged along in the pounding rain for the last half of the silent march, on a night that, coincidentally, happened to be Mujica’s 79th birthday. Some activists praised the president for bringing further attention to the march’s objectives and hoped that his presence indicated that he would work to resolve these issues during the last few months of his presidency.