Pedro González-Trevijano: The president of the Constitutional Court assures that the court will pass sentence on abortion “in a few months” | Spain

The president of the Constitutional Court, Pedro González-Trevijano, announced this Tuesday on Cadena SER that the court will try to approve “in a few months” the sentence on the abortion law. To this end, he reported, he has already asked the new rapporteur for the case, Judge Enrique Arnaldo, to prepare a draft ruling that can be submitted to deliberation “in a reasonably short time.”

This forecast of Trevijano indicates that the text will be debated, and if appropriate approved, before the Constitutional Court – where the conservative sector is now a majority by seven to five – can count as of next June with a progressive majority after the renewal of four magistrates by the Government and the Judiciary. Trevijano defends a quick ruling with a conservative majority on the deadline law approved by the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2010, it was appealed by the PP that year and 11 years later it has not been debated.

The second renewal will imply the appointment of two magistrates by the Government and another two at the initiative of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), if it has regained the power to make appointments. This competition is now suspended by virtue of the law promoted by the PSOE to deprive the Council —whose mandate ended three years ago— of the possibility of appointing senior officials of the judicial apparatus while it remains in office. Pending this second relay operation, the conservative sector of the Constitutional Court has seven magistrates, and the progressive one with five. The correlation of forces will be reversed, however, with the changes of next June, from which the progressive bloc will have seven votes, and the conservative with three.

Regarding his immediate plans, the newly elected president of the court of guarantees, who will presumably have the shortest term in the organ’s history, explained: “The Constitutional Court cannot allow any longer to resolve the abortion issue. We have been there for 11 years and I believe that it is a demand of the citizens that we resolve, and that we resolve soon. I believe that in a few months we will have a text that can be put to a vote, at least, and that the magistrates will also be responsible and will try to make an effort and give an answer. What I do agree is that with 11 years it is difficult to justify that it has not even been debated ”.

Asked about the delay of this sentence, Trevijano has stated: “I have just arrived at the presidency of the Constitutional Court. I have not been a speaker on this matter. Everything that affects the voluntary termination of pregnancy is always complex and problematic. In Spain, when the law that decriminalized abortion was approved in a series of cases, the Constitutional was fragmented and it was the casting vote of its president, Manuel García Pelayo, who declared the initial unconstitutional of the law. The second project approved decriminalization in four specific cases, but among 12 magistrates there were no less than five particular votes against, and this is a context that happens in neighboring countries. In the United States, it was not until 1973 that the right to abortion was constitutionalized ”.

The delay in processing the appeal of the PP against the Abortion Law last June led to the presentation of a complaint, already filed by the Supreme Court, against three former presidents of the Constitutional Court and a former magistrate for alleged malicious delay in resolving the matter. A complaint was also filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Regarding the orientation that the presentation will have, the person in charge of writing it spoke through an article published in The Impartial in 2009. In that rostrum, the conservative Enrique Arnaldo criticized the then Socialist Minister Bibiana Aido saying that if girls under 16 could marry or have children, “they can also have an abortion.” “By the same rule of three”, wrote the magistrate, “they could constitute mortgages, buy or sell real estate, Madoff bonds, Treasury bills, working a night shift, working overtime, being fully responsible in the criminal order (and not with the privileges of criminal legislation for minors), joining any of the Armies or the Security Forces and Bodies. Ah! and of course, vote in elections, popular consultations and various referendums. Why not?”.

Regarding the previous opinions of the magistrates and the possibility that they serve as a basis to challenge them, alleging lack of impartiality, Trevijano said that many of them have spoken before throughout their careers on current issues and that is no reason enough for your challenge. He added that this cannot be an obstacle to their election, because what is important and required is that once in court they act with “independence and impartiality”, knowing that “the magistrates have ideology, like any other man on the street.”

Justices Narváez and Conde-Pumpido have refrained from intervening in the resources of the process for having given his opinion on the matter. Narváez compared the independence project with 23-F to argue that it was more serious than this.

Arnaldo’s choice

The president of the Constitutional Court has also been asked about the recent renovation of the institutions, including the court of guarantees itself, about the terms in which it has been carried out and the candidates chosen. In this regard, he stated that “institutions must be renewed in a timely manner.” “But many times the parties consider a behavior and then the times impose another behavior,” he added. And as for the affinity or proximity of the candidates, specifically Arnaldo with respect to the PP, he has stated: “Almost all the magistrates, or many of them, have expressed opinions on some matters that were on the Constitutional table. Does that prevent you from being part of the court? It is difficult for a professor of Constitutional Law or Political Science, or Administrative Law, not to have written in recent years about the procés problem, or about the declaration of independence, or about social issues, or about abortion legislation, or about euthanasia. Does that prevent them from issuing their resolution with independence and impartiality? I do not think so. And what must be demanded of them is that they be independent and impartial when they sit down to exercise their jurisdictional function ”.
Trevijano has admitted, while “the magistrates have their own ideology.” “It would be missing more, like any man on the street,” he added. The president of the Constitutional Court has quoted the Constitutional magistrate María Luisa Balaguer, of whom he has said: “María Luisa Balaguer said in an interview that you may have belonged to a political party, and then request your dismissal and access the Constitutional Court. What must be required of them is that they then act independently in court. It is the greatness of a plural composition ”. In this sense, the president of the court of guarantees has recalled that, those who access this institution, “are jurists of recognized prestige with at least 15 years of professional practice.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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