17 October 2020
The State Duma Committee has approved a bill preventing Constitutional Court judges from publishing dissenting opinions.
Retired federal judge and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the celebrated lawyer Sergei Pashin told the Govorit Moskva (Moscow Speaks) radio station that such a move is not democratic.
“This type of act constrains the independence, autonomy and freedom of inner judicial conviction. The position of a minority of the Constitutional Court, when individual judges have a different opinion, is no less important than the position of the entire Constitutional Court, acting in a plenary, collegiate way. “
“In countries where constitutional control is exercised not by special courts, but by supreme courts, as, for example, in the United States, a court ruling may vary depending on the balance of power. When a new person comes to court an unpopular opinion can be approved by a margin of one vote. As such, the legal position of each judge is of great value.
In addition, judges can interpret constitutional law in different ways. This view may not be shared by the leadership and may not be shared by state authorities, but it may be shared by certain academic experts and, in general, the legal community.
Therefore, clamping the mouth of a judge shut and preventing him from publishing a dissenting opinion is not an act of democracy. Instead, it is an act of disrespect for the law and the judicial system as a whole. “
Senator Andrei Klishas and Pavel Krasheninnikov, the head of the Duma committee on legislation, have made amendments to the second reading of the draft law on changing the law on the Constitutional Court.
Currently, according to Federal Constitutional Law No. 1 “On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation”, a judge of the Court who disagrees with the majority of his or her colleagues may express his or her opinion in a separate document which is published together with the decision of the Constitutional Court. It has no legal force.
Translated by Matthew Quigley