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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

What is happening at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia?

By: Andrej Žitnik (Nova24tv.si)

What is happening at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia? There are reports that two constitutional judges have been subjected to tremendous pressure from the authorities and its parallel mechanism in connection with the review of the constitutionality of the law on RTV. Could there really be a decision that would mean the final breakdown of the rule of law?

Whatever is happening, there have been movements in the background, which can only be understood as a rearrangement of the chess pieces in connection with the review of the constitutionality of a key law for the government, which would permanently subjugate the public institution RTV Slovenia. Rok Svetlič was the rapporteur in the case until now, but now Svetlič has been replaced by Matej Accetto – the same Accetto who secretly got along with the government-friendly European Commissioner Věra Jourova.

Such changes usually occur when the rapporteur constitutional judge cannot gather 5 votes for his proposed court decision. We asked the Constitutional Court what was happening, and received the answer that this is not common:

“Dear, in accordance with the schedule of work (Section V), the judges have agreed to assign the case to Judge Accetto. Work schedule of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia for the spring session of 2023 – Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia (us-rs.si). Replacements of rapporteurs are not very common, but they are not unusual either. Otherwise, in the Constitutional Court, it is the case that every judge can always submit his own variant proposal for a decision, even when he is not the rapporteur. More than that cannot be said.”

The Constitutional Court therefore admits between the lines that it is an unusual move, it does not say more than that. On the other hand, the Požareport portal reports on – completely unbelievable for a democratic country – pressure on two constitutional judges who (contrary to the expectations of the deep state) have so far made decisions in accordance with their conscience and professional integrity: They are Rajko Knez and Matej Accetto.

Carrot and stick?

According to the report, experts attribute the tactical transfers to the previously mentioned political pressures and partially changed government tactics. Accetto and Knez are supposed to break the most with a proven but also ruthless behind-the-scenes game of carrot and stick. Knez is said to have been promised a position as a judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where Marko Bošnjak’s mandate expires in April 2025, and the same is said to be happening with Matej Accetto, who wants to become a Slovenian judge at the Court of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg. Although Accetto is said to know that if he votes against the suspension of the Golob’s Law, he thereby violates the current legal practice of the EU, which is also explicitly asserted in the initiative for the review of the constitutionality of the Golob’s Law on RTV, he is said to have been covered by the European Commissioner Věra Jourova, who is said to promised at a secret meeting that if he “sunk” the opponents of Golob’s law, she would help him behind the scenes with the European decision-makers (Committee 255), so that this would/will not harm him in his – later – candidacy for a judge of the EU. Otherwise, the government will not even propose Accetto as a judge of the CJEU.

Disintegration of the rule of law

If it is true that Judges Accetto and Knez will change their opinions, it is nothing less than the breakdown of the rule of law. Especially with Judge Knez, it is clear from his separate opinion that he understands why the new law on broadcasting is unconstitutional. If he were to change his mind now, it would be such a legal salto mortale that it would completely mark his legal career. If he were to get a high-ranking European job, the suspicion of corruption and collusion would be so strong that it would probably require an official investigation by the law enforcement authorities.

APPROVED AGENDA OF THE 13TH SESSION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT FROM APRIL 19TH, 2023, HTTPS://T.CO/TPBD6VAXSO

— CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA (@USTAVNOSODISCE) APRIL 19TH, 2023

Even more worrying are reports that EU Commissioner Věra Jourova has offered support to Judge Accetto in a possible run for a CEU judge if he supports the government’s amendment to the ZRTVS. It is difficult to explain the scale of such a scandal. If it turns out that the European Commissioner actively campaigned for a pro-government law, with which the authorities would take control of a public institution, it is not only a question of the disintegration of the rule of law, but even of shaking the foundations of the supranational sui generis regulation of the European Union. Eastern European countries in particular will have to consider whether they really want to participate in a union where, in exchange for the four freedoms, left-wing extremists in the European Committee, European Court, and European Parliament try in every way to help left-wing governments and subversively harm right-wing ones. The story of ZRTVS – a purely provincial affair about how the failing government wants to take over the main public media in the country – can therefore grow into an international affair.

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