Sunday, July 13, 2014

what is "lis mota"?

Lis Mota
It is a well-settled maxim of adjudication that an issue assailing the constitutionality of a governmental act should be avoided whenever possible. Thus, in the case of Sotto v. Commission on Elections,115 this Court held:
x x x It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass upon a constitutional question and decide a law to be unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised by the parties and that when it is raised, if the record also presents some other ground upon which the court may rest its judgment, that course will be adopted and the constitutional question will be left for consideration until a case arises in which a decision upon such question will be unavoidable.116 [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]
The same principle was applied in Luz Farms v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform,117 where this Court invalidated Sections 13 and 32 of Republic Act No. 6657 for being confiscatory and violative of due process, to wit:
It has been established that this Court will assume jurisdiction over a constitutional question only if it is shown that the essential requisites of a judicial inquiry into such a question are first satisfied. Thus, there must be an actual case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights susceptible of judicial determination, the constitutional question must have been opportunely raised by the proper party, and the resolution of the question is unavoidably necessary to the decision of the case itself.118 [Emphasis supplied]
Succinctly put, courts will not touch the issue of constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very lis mota or crux of the controversy.

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