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February 28, 2021

The configuration of the Constitutional Court will radically change on July 13

PSD will have three appointed judges, one in addition compared to the current number; PNL will lose a judge, while UDMR managed to keep its seat


After renewing the Constitutional Court’s suite of judges, the configuration of this institution will radically change on July 13: PSD will have three appointed judges, namely one in addition compared to the current number; PNL will lose a judge, while UDMR managed to keep its seat.

Marian Enache (PSD), Attila Varga (UDMR) and Livia Stanciu (appointed by the Romanian President) will be, starting on July 13, three of the nine judges from the Constitutional Court of Romania. They take the vacant seats resulted after the expiry of the mandates of Tudorel Toader (PNL), Valentin-Zoltán Puskás (UDMR) and Augustin Zegrean, CCR President (appointed by Traian Basescu in 2007). Together with these changes, the Constitutional Court’s configuration will also change.

Thus, PSD will have no less than three appointed judges: Valer Dorneanu, former Social-Democrat deputy, appointed by the Chamber of Deputies in 2013; Maya Teodoroiu, appointed by the Senate in February 2015, after judge Toni Grebla resigned, since he was accused of corruption; Marian Enache, former FSN, PDSR and PSD deputy, appointed by the Chamber of Deputies on June 8, 2016.

In their turn, Liberals will lose a judge, after UDMR nominated a judge with the support of PSD, ALDE and UNPR, in place of Tudorel Toader, whose mandate will expire. There will be only two constitutional judges nominated by PNL: Stefan Minea, law professor in Cluj-Napoca, appointed by the Chamber of Deputies in 2010, and Mona Pivniceru, former Minister of Justice in USL period, appointed by the Senate in June 2013.

UDMR keeps its seat in the Court, after Hungarians managed to impose Attila Varga, former deputy of the Union from 1992 to 2012, in the place of Valentin-Zoltán Puskás, whose mandate will expire. In return for the support they received from the Social-Democrats for appointing their own man at the Constitutional Court from the Chamber of Deputies, Hungarians supported PSD’s nomination for a constitutional judge from the Senate.

With this renewal of the Constitutional Court, President Klaus Iohannis nominated a judge for the first time, namely the President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, Livia Stanciu. The nomination of the Cotroceni Palace comes after judge Augustin Zegrean’s nine years mandate has expired this month. Thus, while Klaus Iohannis has a single judge appointed to the Court, two of the people appointed by the former President of Romania, Traian Basescu, are still in office: Petre Lazaroiu, appointed in 2010, and Daniel Morar, former head of DNA, appointed in 2013.

According to Mediafax, Constitutional Court’s configuration is extremely important, given that the great decisions of this institution are usually taken by a majority of votes and the judges’ positioning reflected not just one time the political direction from which they come.

The stake is even bigger as CCR is going to pronounce on other matters who could affect big corruption cases. Even the judges appointed these days by the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the Presidency, will officially take over their mandates on July 13, their appointment is an important signal considering the decision which is expected to be pronounced on Wednesday, June 15, on the decriminalization of the abuse of office.  The file arrived at CCR after the former DIICOT chief prosecutor Alina Bica, against whom a criminal investigation was started, raised the exception of unconstitutionality of the article in the Criminal Code regulating this crime. At the meeting held on May 24, CCR has postponed the discussion of the exception, while a new postponement could make the decision to be taken by the future composition of the Court.

According to the DNA chief prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi, a decision of decriminalization of the abuse of office would affect more than 3,000 cases, while DNA is working on more than 7,000 cases.

Besides, there are also signals that the stakes are high resulting from the development of the events in last days. Recently returned from the electoral campaign for the local elections, deputies and senators of the PSD-UNPR-ALDE majority, supported by UDMR, have managed to mobilize and to elect Marian Enache (from the Senate) and Attila Varga (from the Chamber of Deputies).

At the same time, CCR members were quick to choose an interim President in place of Augustin Zegrean. Former PSD deputy Valer Dorneanu won the elections for the seat of interim President in front of Augustin Zegrean, who would have wished to ensure the transition period until July 13.

Only one day distance from Dorneanu’s election, President Klaus Iohannis met the Constitutional Court’s members at the request of Augustin Zegrean; Daniel Morar was missing from discussions. Besides, next day Klaus Iohannis has signed the decree for appointing Livia Stanciu as a CCR judge from the Presidency. Stanciu is the President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, currently having two mandates; she had this position in the period in which were actually started the convictions in the big corruption cases. Thus, in the future structure of CCR there will be at least three strong voices, who often had opposite opinions on the great subjects regarding justice – Livia Stanciu, Daniel Morar (former head of DNA) and Mona Pivniceru (former Minister of Justice in the USL Government).

Recently, the Court also took important decisions such as: stating to be unconstitutional no less than 50 articles of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code; invalidating three of the Big Brother laws; cancelling the law of the decentralization and of the law which allowed the local representatives to migrate from one political party to another, or stopping SRI’s intercepts. The Court also significantly increased, in the last years, its jurisprudence related to judging legal conflicts of a constitutional nature, meaning arbitration between the main state institutions (Parliament, Presidency, and Government).

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