Constitutional Court of Hungary
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The Constitutional Court of Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország Alkotmánybírósága) is a special court of Hungary, making judicial review of the acts of the Parliament of Hungary. The official seat of the Constitutional Court is Budapest. Until 2012 the seat was Esztergom.
The Constitutional Court is composed of 15 judges since September 1, 2011 (previously, the Court was composed of 11 judges). The members then elect the President of the Court from among its members in a secret ballot. One or two Vice-Presidents, appointed by the President of the Court, stand in for the President in the event of his absence for any reason. The constitutional court passes on the constitutionality of laws, and there is no right of appeal on these decisions. The Constitutional Court serves as the main body for the protection of the Constitution, its tasks being the review of the constitutionality of statutes, and the protection of constitutional order and fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Constitutional Court performs its tasks independently. With its own budget and its judges being elected by Parliament it does not constitute a part of the ordinary judicial system.
On October 19, 1989 the Hungarian Parliament passed a resolution on the establishment of the Constitutional Court. Its organisation and authority, however, had been determined earlier in the framework of the trilateral political roundtable negotiations preparing the democratic transformation of the political system. The basic provisions on the Constitutional Court were laid down in October 1989 by Parliament by way of amending the Constitution (Article 32/A). The court was set up in order to promote the establishment of a state governed by the rule of law as well as the protection of constitutional order and fundamental rights. Act XXXII of 1989 on the Constitutional Court was passed by Parliament on 19 October 1989, and the Constitutional Court started its work on 1 January 1990.
Changes made by the 2011 Constitution
The Constitutional Court (Article 24.)
(1) The Constitutional Court shall be the main authority for constitutional protection.
(2) The Constitutional Court shall
a) review the constitutionality of laws adopted, but not yet published,
b) review at the request of a judge the constitutionality of legislation to be applied in an individual case,
c) on the basis of a constitutional complaint, review the constitutionality of legislation or a judicial decision applied in an individual case,
d) upon the initiative of the Government or one quarter of the Members of Parliament review the constitutionality of laws,
e) review the conflict of legislation with international treaties, and
f) perform other duties and authorities defined in the Constitution and in super majority laws.
(3) Acting pursuant to its jurisdiction in its competence under section b)-d) of paragraph (2), the Constitutional Court will annul laws and other legal norms, judicial decisions that it finds to be unconstitutional, pursuant to its jurisdiction under section e) of paragraph (2) annul laws or legal norms deemed to be in conflict with international treaties and will also rule on other issues set forth in super majority laws.
(4) Acting pursuant to its jurisdiction under section c)-d) of paragraph (2), the Constitutional Court shall review the constitutionality of laws on the State Budget and its implementation, on central taxes, fees and customs duties, pension and health care contributions, as well as on the content of the statues concerning uniform requirements on local taxes only if the petition refers exclusively to the right to life and human dignity, the right to the protection of personal data, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or the right connected to the Hungarian citizenship, if the conditions defined for adopting and promulgating the law have not been met.
(5) The Constitutional Court is a body of 15 members, elected by Parliament for a period of twelve years by a two-third majority of the Members of Parliament. The Parliament will elect with a two-third majority of the Members of Parliament a President, with a mandate that lasts until the term of the judge’s mandate. Members of the Constitutional Court may not be members of a political party and may not engage in any political activities.
- László Sólyom (July 1, 1990 – November 24, 1998)
- János Németh (November 24, 1998 – July 31, 2003)
- András Holló (August 1, 2003 – November 12, 2005)
- Mihály Bihari (November 12, 2005 – July 2, 2008)
- Péter Paczolay (July 3, 2008 –)
The Hungarian Constitution declares that members of the Constitutional Court shall be elected by Parliament. It also determines the rules of such elections. Impartiality is guaranteed by having proposed members of the Constitutional Court to be put forward by a nominating committee consisting of one member each from the factions of parties represented in Parliament and shall be elected by a two-thirds majority of all Members of Parliament. Hungarian law provides that only jurists of outstanding theoretical knowledge or having at least twenty years of legal practice may be elected members of the Constitutional Court. Membership is for a term of nine years and members may be re-elected once. The office of judges of the Constitutional Court comes to an end when they reach the age of 70 years.
The current composition of the court includes the following judges:
- Péter Paczolay, President of the Constitutional Court
- András Holló, Vice President of the Constitutional Court
- Elemér Balogh
- András Bragyova
- László Kiss
- Péter Kovács
- Barnabás Lenkovics
- Miklós Lévay
- István Stumpf
- Mihály Bihari
The following judges were appointed at September 1, 2011:
- Constitutional economics
- Rule of law
- Rule According to Higher Law