Fiasko of President Pavel in the Senate: His Candidate for Constitutional Judge Receives Only 23 Votes

Petr Horník

In a disappointing turn of events, the candidate nominated by President Pavel for the position of constitutional judge faced a significant setback in the Senate. With only 23 out of 73 senators voting in favor of his appointment, the current Supreme Court judge, Pavel Simon, will not become a constitutional judge. This rejection marks the first time that the upper chamber of parliament has not approved a nominee put forward by President Pavel.

In response to the Senate’s decision, President Pavel expressed his respect for their choice. He emphasized that he had presented the senators with reasons why he considered Dr. Simon, a qualified candidate during the plenary session of the upper chamber. However, the senators decided otherwise, fulfilling their constitutional role. The President remains committed to identifying the most suitable candidates for the vacancies at the Constitutional Court.

Dr. Simon, who has served as a judge on the Supreme Court for the past 13 years, was President Pavel’s first nominee to be rejected by the Senate. Despite the President’s efforts to support his candidate and explain his choice to the senators, the majority did not find him suitable for the role of a constitutional judge.

The Senate’s decision has sparked discussions about the selection process and the qualities desired in the judges of the Constitutional Court. President Pavel has expressed his vision of a balanced court composed of restrained and activist judges. He sees Dr. Simon as a restrained judge who respects the will of the lawmakers. The President believes the Constitutional Court should consist of strong individuals with diverse expertise and personal profiles, ensuring a comprehensive representation of viewpoints.

The media scrutiny surrounding the nominated candidates has concerned President Pavel. He questions the extent to which the public interest should be involved in examining candidates. Striking the right balance between thorough evaluation and protecting the privacy and reputation of the candidates is a challenge that needs to be addressed.

President Pavel’s nomination of Dr. Simon faced resistance from senators due to his opinions on compensations for state-induced damages, previous rulings later overturned by the Constitutional Court, and his involvement in business ventures, which is prohibited for judges. However, Dr. Simon defended his track record, stating that he carefully weighs the interests at stake and strives to find the right balance in each case.

This rejection highlights the complexity of the nomination process for judges and the importance of a transparent and robust selection process. President Pavel has appointed five nominees as constitutional judges, and the selection process continues to attract attention and scrutiny.

As the country moves forward, the focus will be on finding candidates who possess the necessary qualifications and can contribute to the Constitutional Court’s role as a safeguard of fundamental rights and freedoms. The debate surrounding the nomination process and the qualities expected from constitutional judges is likely to continue, shaping the future of the judiciary in the Czech Republic.