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Back to Urge recuperar el prestigio del Tribunal Constitucional
Asunción de la Iglesia, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Navarra, Spain
The prestige of the Constitutional Court must be restored as a matter of urgency
The resignation of three magistrates of the Constitutional Court has brought it back to the forefront of the news. The vicissitudes of recent years have increased the institutional wear and tear, which is not unrelated to the general political context, quite the contrary. And the crisis afflicting the Constitutional Court, with its own elements, has many more ingredients: the lack of agreement of the parties to renew the institution, the cross recusals, the extensions of the mandates, the anticipated media readings of the vote of the magistrates, the political and media pressures to stop declarations of unconstitutionality, in short, a whole cocktail of nonsense. Therefore, I understand that far beyond the specific magistrates - on whom generalization does injustice - the responsibility reaches many levels.
Speaking of the triple resignation, a colleague in these matters suggested to me the following question: can resignation be the last refuge of independence? And I answer here: it can, but only if one resigns before passing sentence. Otherwise I fear that resignation is a sign of insurmountable weariness.
To assess the seriousness of the current status should remember that this high court is the finishing touch of our constitutional democracy. Its role is that of "guardian of the Constitution" against the legislator, which oversees the distribution of powers in a complex and open territorial model and, through the processes of amparo, it is also responsible for the extraordinary protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. As such, it is an extremely delicate part of the system, particularly when it has the last word on decisions of political scope, more on the limits of the Constitution.
But a considered judgment does not admit the demolition of the work of the Constitutional Court over the years -and this judgment is heard all too often-. The dogmatic construction and the pacifying effect of the rulings have occurred in many cases. However, at other times the responsibility of the Court itself in the deterioration of its image admits little doubt -again, generalization will not do justice-.
Today, more than ever, there is an urgent need to restore the prestige of the institution. This requires, as in so many other matters, that the political parties act with absolute responsibility and a clear vision, specifically with two priorities: to contribute to restoring the credibility of the Constitutional Court so that it can fulfill the essential function entrusted to it by the Constituent Assembly -without subjecting it to the obstacle of funambulism between parties- and to proceed to the best renewal in time, choosing magistrates of great technical quality, but also of human quality and with the capacity to maintain freedom of judgment.