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Jurisdiction[edit]

Hall for plenary sessions (formerly hall of the Moravian Parliament)
Moravian Provincial Diet - Assembly hall 01.jpg

The major part of the court's workload consists of individual petitions of citizen's alleged violations of their constitutional rights after all other remedies were exhausted (including appeals to the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court).

In line with the Article 87 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the following jurisdiction:[1]

Constitutional complaints of individuals[edit]

A physical or legal person may lodge a constitutional complaint alleging breach of their basic right or freedom, which is guaranteed by the Constitutional Order, by an effective decision, measure or intervention of a public authority. The complaint must be lodged within two months from the delivery of the decision on the last remedy (appeal) or, when there is no effective remedy, within two months from learning about the intervention of the public authority into their basic rights (one year from the intervention at the latest).[2]

The Court does not have a role of a third instance and it is not, formally, a superior court to the general courts. Its jurisdiction lies in deciding whether the previous process led to breach of constitutional rights or freedoms.[3] Full review of the previous process may be possible where there were alleged breaches of constitutional processual principles, such as the right for judicial protection, right for lawful judge, equality of parties, right for public hearing and expression of opinion on all of the admitted evidence.[4]

In case that the complaint includes also a motion to repeal law or other regulation, or when the senate reaches conclusion that the underlying law or regulation is unconstitutional, the proceedings regarding the complaint are suspended until the plenum decides on the law's/regulation's constitutionality.[5]

In case that the court satisfies the complaint, it holds a ruling whereby it specifies which constitutional right or freedom was breached by the intervention of the public authority and it repeals the decision or orders the public authority to cease the breach and, if possible, restore the previous situation.[6]

In 2012, the Constitutional Court received 4.915<note>The number includes also complaints of municipal or regional assemblies against illegal interventions of state against their right for self-governance</note> constitutional complaints.[7]

Repeal of laws & other legal regulations or individual provisions thereof[edit]

The Constitutional Court shall repeal laws & other legal regulations (e.g. Governmental Regulations, Ministerial or Municipal Ordinances, etc.) or individual provisions thereof should they contravene the constitutional order. The decision making is taken by the plenary session of the Court; at least 10 out of 15 judges must be present for the Court to be quorate.[8] A majority of at least 9 Justices is needed for a law to be repealed,[9] which may in rare cases lead to the majority ruling of 8 against 7 Justices that a law is unconstitutional, whereby it still remains in force.

The Constitutional Court has held that it has also jurisdiction to review and repeal Constitutional Enactments, even though no such authority is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. When reviewing the Constitutional Act No. 195/2009 Coll. in connection with individual petition of a Deputy (who claimed that his right to hold the office was breached when the Parliament adopted the said law on the dissolution of Parliament and holding of early elections instead of using a standard constitutional way of reaching early elections, which requires a series of failed attempts to constitute a Government with Parliamentary majority), the Court held that the imperative of the material core of the Constitution, i.e. inviolability of the value of democratic society, may not be changed. This enshrines for example in Section 9(2) of the Constitution: "The substantive requisites of the democratic, law-abiding State may not be amended" as well as in other parts of the Constitution and the Charter. The Court repealed the Constitutional Act, ruling that ad hoc changes of Constitution are against the democratic order.[10]

Other notable case concerned repeal of Governmental Regulation No. 467/2009 Coll., which specified what amounts of drugs were considered "small" for the purposes of the Criminal Code (which criminalizes only possession of amounts of drugs "larger than small"). The motion was filed by a District Court which considered it in breach of Article 39 of the Charter which states that "only a law may designate which acts constitute a crime and what penalties, or other detriments to rights or property, may be imposed for committing them".[11] (See also: Drug policy of the Czech Republic)

Repeal of laws[edit]

The motion to repeal a law or individual provisions thereof may be brought by:[12]

  • an individual when
    • filing a constitutional complaint claiming that the alleged breach of rights arises out of the law's unconstitutionality
    • filing a motion for renewal of proceedings following an international court's decision on breach of the individual's human rights (typically, a decision of the European Court for Human Rights),
  • a senate or the plenum of the Constitutional Court when deciding a constitutional complaint (typically, either a complaint brought by individual or municipality),
  • a court in case it is deciding a case and comes to the conclusion that a law to be applied contravenes constitution,[13]
  • the President of the Republic,
  • a group of at least 41 Deputies or 17 Senators (typically, by the members of Parliamentary opposition when trying to stop reforms pushed through by the majority of Governmental parties),
  • the Government in case that an international court delivers that a Czech law is in breach of an obligation of the Czech Republic arising out of an international convention to which it is a party.

Repeal of other legal regulations[edit]

The motion to repeal other legal regulations or individual provisions thereof may be brought by:

  • an individual when
    • filing a constitutional complaint claiming that the alleged breach of rights arises out of the law's unconstitutionality
    • filing a motion for renewal of proceedings following an international court's decision on breach of the individual's human rights,
  • a senate or the plenum of the Constitutional Court when deciding a constitutional complaint,
  • a court in case it is deciding a case and comes to the conclusion that a legal regulation to be applied contravenes Constitution or law,
  • the Government,
  • a group of at least 25 Deputies or 10 Senators,
  • a Regional Assembly,
  • Ombudsman,
  • Ministry of Interior in case of Ordinances of a municipality, region or the Capital City of Prague,
  • responsible Ministry in case of Regulations of a region or the Capital City of Prague concerning self-governance,
  • a chief of the Regional Authority in case of Regulations of a municipality,
  • a Municipal Assembly in case of a Regulation or Ordinance of the appropriate Region.

The motions to repeal a law are most commonly brought by general courts (on average 18 a year between 2000 and 2012), by individuals (~ 9 a year), and by the Senators and Deputies (~ 9 a year combined). The Ministry of Interior is also relatively active in bringing motions to repeal Ordinances of regions and municipalities (~ 6 a year). The other ways of bringing the motion are used quite rarely.[14]

Rights and Jurisdiction of Regions and Municipalities[edit]

Complaints against illegal state interventions into the right for self-governance[edit]

Article 8 of the Constitution guarantees the right for territorial self-government of territorial units. This is further elaborated in the Constitution's Chapter 7 which is wholly dedicated to the issue. The entire surface of the Czech Republic is divided into regions and further into municipalities (apart from 5 military areas). Under Article 101(4), the State may intervene in the activities of self-governing territorial divisions only if such intervention is required by protection of the law and only in a manner defined by law.[15]

Technically, a complaint may be filed by an assembly of a municipality/region and it is treated in the same way as a complaint of a physical or a legal individual (see above).[16] In the past, the Constitutional Court has received, for example, a complaint of Liberec Region against the decision of the Ministry of Education to transfer secondary schools into the Region's hands (which was part of a wider school reform),[17] or a complaint of South Moravian Region against repeal of its spatial planning by the Supreme Administrative Court (which was deciding on the action brought by 13 municipalities as a part of tug-of-war over route of a planned highway).[18]

Jurisdiction disputes between state agencies and territorial self-government agencies[edit]

Disputes regarding jurisdiction may be either positive (both authorities claim it) or negative (no authority accepts to deal with the issue) and may take either between two sate agencies, or agency-territorial unit, or two territorial units.[19] The motion may be brought either by a state agency or by a municipal/regional assembly. The decision of the Court is taken by its plenum.[20]

The Court was deciding, for example, whether it is the responsibility of a Region or the Ministry of Health to ensure existence of first aid network,[21] or who is responsible to decide on objection of partiality against the President of the Supreme Court during disciplinary proceedings with its Vice-President.[22]

Elections and political parties[edit]

Election of a Deputy or Senator[edit]

The Constitutional Court hears appeals against decisions in matters of confirmation of the election of a Deputy or Senator.

Eligibility and on incompatibility of holding the office[edit]

reservations on loss of eligibility and on incompatibility of holding the office of Deputy or Senator according to Article 25,

Dissolution of a political party[edit]

  • whether a decision on the dissolution of a political party, or another decision regarding the activity of a political party, conforms to constitutional or other laws,

Decisions on the eligibility of the President of the Republic to hold the office[edit]

Impeachment of the President of the Republic[edit]

impeachment by the Senate of the President of the Republic under Article 65, par. 2,

Decision on execution of selected presidential duties by the Prime Minister[edit]

the Presidential proposal to repeal a decision of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate according to Article 66 (decision on execution of selected presidential duties being handed over to the Prime Minister in case of President's inability to execute them himself for a serious reason),

Other decisions[edit]

Implementation of a ruling by an international court[edit]

measures essential for the implementation of a ruling by an international court, which is binding for the Czech Republic, unless it can be implemented in a different manner,

Referendum on accession to the EU[edit]

  • on the remedy against a decision adopted by the President of the Republic not to announce a referendum concerning the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union, on whether the procedure of the referendum concerning the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union is in accordance with the Constitutional Act on Referendum concerning the Accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union and the implementing regulation related thereto.

Also, in cases when an already abolished law contrary to the constitutional order should be applied by a general court, it shall submit the issue to the Constitutional Court (Art. 95 par. 2).[23]

Membership[edit]

Current Justices[edit]

Name Born Appt. by Senate conf. vote Age at appt. First day /
Length of service
Previous positions
Rychetský

Rychetský, PavelPavel Rychetský
(President)

August 17, 1943
(age 74)
in Prague
Klaus, VáclavVáclav Klaus (2003)

Miloš Zeman (2013)
50/73 (2003)

62/73 (2013)
59 June 8, 2003
14 years, 2 months
Member of the Communist Party (1966-1969); In-House Lawyer (1968-1989); General State Attorney (1990); Vice-Prime Minister (1990-1992); Attorney-At-Law (1992-1996);Senator (1996-2003); Minister of Justice (2002-2003)

Tomková, MiladaMilada Tomková
(Vice-President)

1959 Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 59/72 54 May 3, 2013
4 years, 3 months
Lawyer at the Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs (1987-2003); Justice of the Supreme Administrative Court (2003-2013)

Fenyk, JaroslavJaroslav Fenyk
(Vice-President)

April 26, 1961
(age 56)
in Pelhřimov
Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 52/72 52 May 3, 2013
4 years, 3 months
Member of the Communist Party (1981-?); Army Prosecutor (1987-1990); State Attorney (1990-2005); Attorney-At-Law (2006-2013)

Janů, IvanaIvana Janů

March 14, 1946
(age 71)
in Plazy
Havel, VáclavVáclav Havel (1993)

Václav Klaus (2004)
49/65 (2004) 58 September 16, 2004
12 years, 11 months
In-House-Lawyer (1973-1989); Federal Deputy (1990-1992); Deputy (1993); Vice-President of the Constitutional Court (1993-2002); Ad litem Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (2002-2004)

Musil, JanJan Musil

June 2, 1941
(age 76)
in Plzeň
Klaus, VáclavVáclav Klaus (2003)

Miloš Zeman (2014)
50/73 (2003)

49/72 (2013)
62 January 20, 2014
3 years, 7 months
Member of the Communist Party (1960-1969); teacher of criminal law at the Faculty of Law of the Charles University (1967-2003; since 1993 professor); Rector of the Police University (1992-1998); Vice-Rector of the Police University (1998-2003); Justice of the Constitutional Court (27 November 2003 - 27 November 2013)

Balík, StanislavStanislav Balík

October 6, 1956
(age 60)
in Prague
Klaus, VáclavVáclav Klaus 60/66 48 May 26, 2004
13 years, 2 months
In-House-Lawyer (1979-1989); Attorney-At-Law (1990-2004); President of the Czech Bar Association (2002-2003)

Židlická, MichaelaMichaela Židlická

August 18, 1952
(age 65)
in Brno
Klaus, VáclavVáclav Klaus 52/66 52 June 16, 2004
13 years, 2 months
In-House-Lawyer (1976-1989); teacher of Roman Law and Legal history at the Masaryk University (since 1991)

Formánková, VlastaVlasta Formánková

July 26, 1953
(age 64)
in Klatovy
Klaus, VáclavVáclav Klaus 43/76 52 August 5, 2005
12 years
In-House-Lawyer (1977-1978); Plzeň District Court Judge (1979-2000, civil agenda; 1990-1999 as President); Plzeň Regional Court Judge (2000-2005, civil agenda)

Kůrka, VladimírVladimír Kůrka

1948 Klaus, VáclavVáclav Klaus 61/65 57 December 15, 2005
11 years, 8 months
Plzeň District Court Judge (1975-1976); Most District Court Judge (1976-1994; 1990-1994 as President); High Court in Prague Judge (1994-1996); Supreme Court Justice (1996-2005, Civil and Commercial Division)

Filip, JanJan Filip

November 27, 1950
(age 66)
in Šternberk
Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 60/72 63 May 3, 2013
4 years, 3 months
Member of the Communist Party (1974-1989; for a time also head of a local Communist Cell at Law Faculty of Masaryk University); teacher at the Faculty of Law of the Masaryk University (1974-2013; since 1998 as professor, since 1995 as the Chairman of Department for Constitutional Law)

Sládeček, VladimírVladimír Sládeček

May 13, 1954
(age 63)
in Karlovy Vary
Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 61/72 59 June 4, 2013
4 years, 2 months
Lawyer at Patent Office (1979-1983); State Administration Lawyer (1983-1990); teacher at the Charles University (since 1991), Palacký University (since 2003; 2009-2013 head of Department for Administrative Law); Assistant of Constitutional Court Justice Vladimír Paul (1993-2002)

David, LudvíkLudvík David

1951 Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 62/73 62 August 7, 2013
4 years
Assistant at the Faculty of Law of Masaryk University (1974-1979); Researcher at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (1979-1982); in-house lawyer (1982-1985); Attorney-At-Law (1985-1993); Brno Municipal Court Judge (1993-2000); Brno Regional Court Judge (2000-2002); Supreme Court Justice (2002-2013; Civil and Commercial Division); also lecturer at the Masaryk University and Palacký University

Šimáčková, KateřinaKateřina Šimáčková

October 23, 1966
(age 50)
in Brno
Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 59/73 47 August 7, 2013
4 years
Lawyer of Bureau for Hygiene (1988-1990); Assistant of Federal Constitutional Court Justice Antonín Procházka (1990-1992); Attorney Trainee (1992-1994); Attorney-At-Law (1994-2009); Supreme Administrative Court Justice (2009-2013); also lecturer at the Masaryk University (since 1990)

Suchánek, RadovanRadovan Suchánek

September 14, 1972
(age 44)
in Vimperk
Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 38/65 41 November 26, 2013
3 years, 8 months
Assistant at the Faculty of Law of Charles University (1998-2013); Assistant of Deputy Miroslav Máš (1998-2004); Assistant for legislature at the Ministry of Health (2004-2006); Legal Consultant of the Social Democratic Party (1999-2004, 2006-2013); Attorney Trainee (2010-2013)

Zemánek, JiříJiří Zemánek

May 28, 1950
(age 67)
in Prague
Zeman, MilošMiloš Zeman 53/72 63 January 20, 2014
3 years, 7 months
Researcher at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (1974-1993); Lecturer at the Charles University (1993-2013, European Law)

Communist past[edit]

The Communist past of some nominees is a highly debated issue in the Czech Republic. For example Jan Sváček's two nominations, by Václav Klaus and by Miloš Zeman, have raised protests and were rejected by the Senate.[24] [25] [26] Nominations of Jaroslav Fenyk and Jan Filip, a long time members of the Communist party at the time after the Soviet Invasion and installment of Puppet Government also stirred controversy, although they were ultimately approved by the Senate.[27]

The Communist party membership in years ~1965 - ~1969, i.e. from the Prague Spring democratization effort until soon after the invasion, is generally not seen as controversial, especially where the Justices later became anti-establishment dissidents, such as the President Pavel Rychetský.

Klaus' failures to replenish[edit]

During the presidency of Václav Klaus, the number of Justices of the Constitutional Court fell to mere 11 in 2004 and to mere 12 in 2013, which impacted the Court's backlog of cases as well as its ability to conduct plenary review of laws and regulations.[28] [29] This later became one of the charges connected with the 2013 Senate's action to impeach Klaus.

Place Assailants Assaulted Details Outcome
Javorník 100+ members of Freikorps State Defense Guard
  • 11 members of Financial Police
  • 2 soldiers
  • several Gendarme officers
Freikorps ambushed a State Defense Guard squad that was retreating through the town of Javorník. The Czechoslovak servicemen were disarmed and abducted to Germany where they were interned by local authorities in the concentration camp in Patschkau (apart from two who were released and one who escaped during transport).[30] Apart from soldiers, Freikorps abducted also a district court Judge and his clerk, who were too taken to the concentration camp in Patschkau.[31] 15 Czechoslovak state officials abducted and interned in a concentration camp in Germany.
Černá Voda ethnic-German mob
  • 2 Financial Police officers
  • 4 Gendarme officers
2 members of the Financial Police were lynched by ethnic-German pro-Nazi mob in Černá Voda. When four members of Gendarme intervened, members of Freikorps opened fire from hunting rifles, pistols and a light machine gun. Two members of Freikorps were wounded in the skirmish.[32] 2 Financial Police officers lynched

2 Freikorps members shot and wounded
Mikulovice Unknown number of Freikorps members State Defense Guard squad Freikorps members ambushed a Border Guard squad in Mikulovice. The servicemen were disarmed and forced to wait for a train to Germany at a local train station. Meanwhile a train going in opposite direction was passing through the station and the soldiers hopped on it before the Freikorps could stop them. The squad got to Jeseník and engaged Freikorps in numerous firefights in the following days, arresting five.[33] 5 Freikorps members arrested.
Bernartice Unknown number of Freikorps members
  • 15 members of State Defense Guard
  • 5 Gendarme officers
Freikorps members ambushed a 15 members of Border Guard and 5 members of Gendarme in Bernartice. The soldiers and policemen were disarmed and abducted to Germany where they were interned by local authorities in a concentration camp.[34] 20 Czechoslovak state officials abducted and interned in a concentration camp in Germany.
Bílá Voda Unknown number of Freikorps members State Defense Guard squad Border Guard station in Bílá Voda, which was located directly on the Czech-German border, had been under fire since 20th September. The personnel received orders to retreat in the afternoon of 22 September. Retreating squad was ambushed by Freikorps. A part of the squad broke through, however 15 members of the Border Guard were captured by the ethnic-German terrorists, disarmed and abducted to Germany where they were interned by local authorities in a concentration camp.[35] 15 Czechoslovak state officials abducted and interned in a concentration camp in Germany.
Vápenná - Supíkovice - Rejvíz Unknown number of Freikorps members Gendarme After Freikorps overrun Javorník, the Gendarmerie supported by some of the soldiers that managed to retreat from Javorník, established a new defense posts on the line between municipalities of Vápenná - Supíkovice - Rejvíz. Gendarme officers were repeatedly attacked by Freikorps, with six ending up wounded and one killed in action.[36] 1 Gendarme officer killed in action, 6 wounded
Liptaň
  • 150-180 ethnic German mob
  • Unknown number of Freikorps members
6 Gendarme officers A mob of 150-180 ethnic-Germans, unknown number of them being Freikorps members armed with sub-machine guns supplied from Germany, surrounded Gendarme station in Liptaň. Freikorps overran the station, with three Germans being killed in the process. All six wounded policemen were dragged out and lynched by the mob to death. Their bodies were transported over the border to German town Lischwitz where they were buried in an unmarked mass grave. They were later exhumed and ceremonially buried in the Czechoslovakia after WW2. The main persons that directed the attack on station were never captured (although having been identified), however three other Germans that took part in the attack were arrested, tried and executed by hanging after the war.[37] 6 Gendarme officers lynched to death

3 assailants killed

Refs[edit]

  1. ^ Parliament of the Czech Republic (1992), Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 87 
  2. ^ Section 72
  3. ^ Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic (1997), Ruling No. 5/1997 Coll., of the Constitutional Court, on the conditions of review of decisions of general courts by the Constitutional Court (in Czech), Brno 
  4. ^ Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic (1994), Ruling No. 17/1993 Coll., of the Constitutional Court, on the issue of rights protected by general laws and rights guaranteed by the constitutional laws and international treaties under Art. 10 of the Constitution (in Czech), Brno 
  5. ^ Section 78
  6. ^ Section 82
  7. ^ http://www.usoud.cz/fileadmin/user_upload/ustavni_soud_www/prilohy/Rocni_statisticke_analyzy_2012.pdf
  8. ^ Section 11(a)
  9. ^ Section 13
  10. ^ Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic (2009), Ruling No. 318/2009 Coll., in the matter of Miroslav Melčák, on the repeal of the Constitutional Act No. 195/2009 Coll., on the shortening of the fifth election period of the Chamber of Deputies (in Czech), Brno, retrieved 18 January 2014 
  11. ^ Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic (2013), Ruling No. 259/2013 Coll. (in Czech), Brno 
  12. ^ Section 64(1)(a)
  13. ^ Section 64(2)
  14. ^ Statistika
  15. ^ Con 8, Con 99-105
  16. ^ Section 72
  17. ^ http://www.kraj-lbc.cz/Zastupitelstvo-kraje-podava-soudni-zalobu-a-ustavni-stiznost-n60395.htm
  18. ^ http://www.kr-jihomoravsky.cz/Default.aspx?ID=191797&TypeID=2
  19. ^ Filip, Jan (2007), Zákon o Ústavním soudu [Act on the Constitutional Court] (in Czech), Prague: C.H.Beck, p. 764 
  20. ^ Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic (2006), Notification No. 446/2006 Coll., of the Constitutional Court (in Czech), Brno, retrieved 9 February 2014 
  21. ^ Constitutional Court of the Czech republic (25 September 2007), Pl. ÚS 5/04 -1, in the matter of the motion Assembly of the South Moravian Region against (1) the Czech Republic - Ministry of Health, (2) the Czech Republic - Ministry of finances and (3) the Czech Republic - Ministry of Interior, on the competence dispute between territorial self-governing unit and the State regarding provision of first aid (in Czech), Brno 
  22. ^ Constitutional Court of the Czech republic (28 July 2009), Pl. ÚS 9/09 -1, in the matter of the motion of the President of the Supreme Court regarding the jurisdiction of state authorities to decide on body responsible to suspend a Justice of the Supreme Court during disciplinary hearing (in Czech), Brno 
  23. ^ Parliament of the Czech Republic (1992), Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 95 
  24. ^ http://www.rozhlas.cz/zpravy/politika/_zprava/jan-svacek-nebyl-ani-napodruhe-zvolen-ustavnim-soudcem-senatori-ho-odmitli--1248387
  25. ^ http://denikreferendum.cz/clanek/16205-vyzva-ke-stazeni-nominace-judr-svacka-na-ustavniho-soudce
  26. ^ http://www.reflex.cz/clanek/info-x/51509/ma-byt-komunista-a-kamarad-kmotru-svacek-ustavnim-soudcem-nema-ale-kazdemu-je-to-fuk.html
  27. ^ http://zpravy.idnes.cz/senatori-ke-kandidatum-na-ustavni-soudce-a-jejich-clenstvi-v-ksc-pwt-/domaci.aspx?c=A130326_182655_domaci_hv
  28. ^ http://hn.ihned.cz/c1-14211500-senat-kona-vzorne-za-zpozdeni-je-zodpovedny-hrad
  29. ^ http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ct24/domaci/212380-konci-ustavni-soudce-mucha-klaus-uz-nikoho-nenavrhne/
  30. ^ Procházka, Petr (2007), Příběhy z pohraničí (1st ed.), Jeseník: Hnutí Brontosaurus Jeseníky, p. 13 
  31. ^ Procházka, Petr (2007), Příběhy z pohraničí (1st ed.), Jeseník: Hnutí Brontosaurus Jeseníky, p. 17-19 
  32. ^ Procházka, pages 13.
  33. ^ Procházka, pages 13.
  34. ^ Procházka, pages 13.
  35. ^ Procházka, pages 14.
  36. ^ Procházka, pages 20-22.
  37. ^ Procházka, pages 35-38.