FACTS: In 1994, instead of having only 7 members, an eighth member was added to the JBC as two representatives from Congress began sitting in the JBC – one from the House of Representatives and one from the Senate, with each having one-half (1/2) of a vote. Then, the JBC En Banc, in separate meetings held in 2000 and 2001, decided to allow the representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives one full vote each. Senator Francis Joseph G. Escudero and Congressman Niel C. Tupas, Jr. (respondents) simultaneously sit in the JBC as representatives of the legislature. It is this practice that petitioner has questioned in this petition. Respondents argued that the crux of the controversy is the phrase “a representative of Congress.” It is their theory that the two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, are permanent and mandatory components of “Congress,” such that the absence of either divests the term of its substantive meaning as expressed under the Constitution. Bicameralism, as the system of choice by the Framers, requires that both houses exercise their respective powers in the performance of its mandated duty which is to legislate. Thus, when Section 8(1), Article VIII of the Constitution speaks of “a representative from Congress,” it should mean one representative each from both Houses which comprise the entire Congress.
ISSUE: Whether or not the conditions sine qua non for the exercise of the power of judicial review have been met.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The Courts’ power of judicial review is subject to several limitations, namely: (a) there must be an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (b) the person challenging the act must have “standing” to challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that he has sustained or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (c) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (d) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case. Generally, a party will be allowed to litigate only when these conditions sine qua non are present, especially when the constitutionality of an act by a co-equal branch of government is put in issue. The Court disagrees with the respondents’ contention that petitioner lost his standing to sue because he is not an official nominee for the post of Chief Justice. While it is true that a “personal stake” on the case is imperative to have locus standi, this is not to say that only official nominees for the post of Chief Justice can come to the Court and question the JBC composition for being unconstitutional. The JBC likewise screens and nominates other members of the Judiciary. Albeit heavily publicized in this regard, the JBC’s duty is not at all limited to the nominations for the highest magistrate in the land. A vast number of aspirants to judicial posts all over the country may be affected by the Court’s ruling. More importantly, the legality of the very process of nominations to the positions in the Judiciary is the nucleus of the controversy. The claim that the composition of the JBC is illegal and unconstitutional is an object of concern, not just for a nominee to a judicial post, but for all citizens who have the right to seek judicial intervention for rectification of legal blunders.