Foreign constitutional Courts in the case law – The Czech experience

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with Nincs hozzászólás
PAVEL RYCHETSKÝ President of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic

I. Introduction

Four centuries ago, British poet John Donne said: “No man is an island.”[1] I, as the President of the Czech Constitutional Court (hereinafter: “CCC”), can add to this that no constitutional court is an authority unto itself. Constitutional courts, too, are part of a greater whole, which influences, conditions, and develops them.

Constitutional courts are assumed to be an ultimate authority, and this is deduced from their position at the top of the national systems of judiciary and from the fact that their decisions are final, formally unchallengeable, and not irrevocable by any other governmental power. So as to keep constitutional law from being the monolog of a handful of justices, the constitutional court cannot function without an institutional framework and functional ties, which exist within the state, but also outside of it. If one of the basic principles of the modern democratic state is the division of power into the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches, which keep each other in a state of mutual checks and balances, it is impossible to avoid conflicts over the execution of these rights, which must be resolved in a peaceful, though decisive, way. If this very state enters into international agreements, on the basis of which it transfers some of its rights to international organizations or absorbs the international agreements in its own legal system, then constitutional courts must, in their decision-making, take into account other, extraterritorial, aspects.

Working with international expertise, sources, and procedural analyses of the bodies of constitutional protection from other countries that may have found themselves faced with the same application-related questions in the past can help a constitutional court find the right solution for the, often difficult, tasks it is entrusted with. My goal is to illuminate the experiences of the CCC with the implementation of foreign jurisprudence.

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[1]No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.“ And of course, the phrase above was the inspiration for Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 well known novel For Whom The Bell Tolls.