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Court above the law

Public officials and state bodies are upholding an old tradition - if they find that a law is inconvenient for them to obey, they ignore it. It is a scandal, however, that one of the state bodies behaving in such a way is the Constitutional Court, and for its second term.

Public officials and state bodies are upholding an old tradition - if they find that a law is inconvenient for them to obey, they ignore it. It is a scandal, however, that one of the state bodies behaving in such a way is the Constitutional Court, and for its second term.

The law says that court cases must be assigned to judges "in random order with the assistance of technical and program means". At the regional and district court level, in the past this meant the introduction of electronic case assignment systems. At the Supreme Court, former chief justice Štefan Harabin fought this tooth and nail, but following his departure this failing was put right. If now we were to ask whether it is right for this system to be introduced to the Constitutional Court as well, we would probably hear many arguments against it, claiming that it makes more sense for the court's management to distribute the 2,000 cases that arrive every year in a way that ensures each justice will be equally burdened.

However, this is not the question that should be asked. Just like the regular courts, the Constitutional Court also faces the legal obligation to assign cases electronically. The fact that the court has not done this, from August 2004 under former Chief Justice Ján Mazák and now under new Chief Justice Ivetta Macejková, is shocking. If an independent court that is in charge of protecting constitutionality in this country refuses to obey the law, this is an unheard-of failing. An organ that is tasked by the Constitution with demanding and enforcing the observance of the law cannot do that which it forbids other courts. Even if the court is convinced the law prevents it from acting effectively, it is entitled to demand the law be changed, but it must still obey what the law says. Otherwise it destroys what it was set up to protect.


Sme, April 3

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