Supreme Court judge Jana Baricová is the only one of six candidates for Constitutional Court judges approved by parliament to be appointed by President Andrej Kiska. Baricová, who will be appointed for a term of 12 years, is set to take one of the positions currently held by three Constitutional Court judges - Ján Luby, Juraj Horváth and Ján Auxt - whose terms of office are expiring on July 4.

Kiska said on July 2 about the five rejected candidates that he didn’t find “long-standing interest in constitutional law and constitutional judiciary” in them, as well as “sufficient specialised qualifications”, the TASR newswire quoted him.

“I’ll appoint her (Baricová) as soon as possible,” said Kiska, who was free to choose up to three from among six candidates elected by parliament in April and May. Kiska’s decision was allegedly based on his personal interviews with the six candidates as well as on opinions from widely respected figures in the sphere of law.

“I’ve done everything in line with my conscience and I stand by my decision,” said Kiska.

The president also announced that earlier in the day he’d sent a letter to Parliamentary Chairman Pavol Paska urging him to determine four more candidates from which the other two new Constitutional Court judges could be picked.

An advisory committee is also expected to help Kiska decide on two more new Constitutional Court judges. The committee in the first selection was headed by former Constitutional Court judge Ján Klučka while also including Supreme Court judge Zuzana Ďurišová, judge Juraj Babjak, former member of the Judicial Court and legal expert of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) Jozef Vozár and Constitutional Court advisor Alexander Fuchs.

Kiska is there to secure proper functioning of constitutional bodies, but he failed to make good on his obligations in deciding to fill for now only one instead of all three vacancies of Constitutional Court judges after July 4, Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška said.

Prime Minister and Smer chairman Robert Fico also weighed in later in the day. “I see it as a decision that ushers in a different point of view in the relation between parliament and president,” he said, as quoted by TASR.
He added that the Constitution doesn’t say that those who don’t show long-standing interest in constitutional law and judiciary aren’t eligible to become Constitutional Court judges.

Former speaker of parliament Pavol Hrušovský (Christian-Democratic Movement-KDH) said that in Paška’s place he would directly address Kiska concerning the appointment of judges. Hrušovský also insisted that president should respect the decision of Slovak parliament, and added that he was of the same opinion also in the past, when then-president Ivan Gašparovič refused to appoint Jozef Čentéš for general prosecutor.

Several opposition MPs reminded of the Čentéš case and argued that Kiska is now only acting in line with the then finding of the Constitutional Court.

Most-Híd MP and former justice minister Lucia Žitňanská opined for the SITA newswire that if Kiska is able to reason his selection (or rather non-selection), he acts in compliance with the previous finding of the CC.

“But´in the bottom line, it does not have to be a selection in line with my personal idea about who is an apt candidate for the position of Constitutional Court judge,” she added. Žitňanská stressed that for her, the process of selection the six candidates was much more problematic, as the ruling Smer party applied a dictatorship of majority when it selected only its own six candidates; ignoring proposals of judiciary experts and the opposition.

Kiska chose Baricová, a candidate proposed in April by then Supreme Court chairman and her colleague Štefan Harabin, without explaining specifically the reasons behind it. “She has a long-term interest in constitutional law, she had an internship at the Constitutional Court, and she is the most complex personality,” Jozef Vozár of president’s advisory committee told the Sme daily.

(Source: TASR, SITA, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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