Constitutional Court Judge Rok Čeferin told the Financial Times that the criticism of judges should not be acceptable in a democracy, adding that the current government does not respect that. “In democracies, there should be limits to acceptable criticism of judges, but our government does not respect those limits,” he was cited by the foreign media. Former Constitutional Court Judge Jan Zobec explained to us: “It is certainly not appropriate for a Constitutional Court Judge to express an opinion at the expense of the government or criticise its work, as the government, in most cases, acts as a party in the proceedings in the Constitutional Court.”
Constitutional Court Judge Rok Čeferin believes that Prime Minister Janez Janša is crossing the line of what is permitted by criticising the Constitutional Court. “In democracies, there should be limits to acceptable criticism of judges, but our government does not respect those limits,” the Constitutional Court Judge Čeferin told the newspaper. “We are being discredited, humiliated and insulted every time we make a decision that the government, the Prime Minister, and, in some cases, his closest associates do not like.” Janša believes that the left is introducing its “perverted policy,” with which they deliberately want to continue to spread the epidemic, but before that, he has also repeatedly expressed the opinion that the Constitutional Court is not taking the epidemic into account in its decisions.
Judge Čeferin is undermining the credibility of the Constitutional Court
“It is certainly not appropriate for a Constitutional Court Judge to express an opinion at the expense of the government or criticise its work, as the government, in most cases, acts as a party in the proceedings in the Constitutional Court,” explained the Judge of the Supreme Court, Jan Zobec, who was extremely reticent in all of his public appearances during his time as a Constitutional Court Judge. His messages, as is the case with all Constitutional Court Judges with integrity, were communicated exclusively through the argumentation of positions in the decisions of the Constitutional Court – especially when opinions differed. Zobec is convinced that a Judge who communicates in a manner like Čeferin is losing his legitimacy, impartiality and credibility, which was also evident from the situation in which he did not withdraw from the proceedings. “It is definitely not good for any judge to get into disputes with others,” he explained.
The Court should only criticise the government through its Public Relations Office or with a joint press release. “However, in this case, Rok Čeferin made an individual statement, which is something that the judges should avoid, as they must be impartial. In fact, this undermines the credibility of the entire institution,” Zobec added.
The government has the right to be critical of the Constitutional Court
On the other hand, Zobec emphasises that the Prime Minister and the government can be critical of the decisions of the Constitutional Court, and have the right to criticise, unlike the Constitutional Court Judges. Prime Minister Janša accused the Constitutional Court of not taking the epidemic into account in its decisions. Zobec also explained that in the case of Aleš Zalar’s request for a constitutional review of the measure on crossing the border, just a few days were enough for the Court to reach its decision, while some have been waiting years for the Constitutional Court’s decision, which is a well-founded criticism of the Court’s work.