Coalition: A New Constitutional Court Judge Should be Elected through an Inclusive Process
On July 26, 2021, the term of Tamaz Tsabutashvili, a Constitutional Court judge, will expire. The President of Georgia must appoint a new member of the Court. According to the law, the new judge must be appointed from June 26 to July 16.
The already weak reputation and trust in the Constitutional Court has recently suffered significant damage. The appointment of the last two members of the Constitutional Court contributed to this negative perception. The Supreme Court judges, who were appointed based on a procedure which had been widely criticized at both international and local levels, elected the said two members of the Constitutional Court. The process failed to uphold public interest and ensure the involvement of civil and professional groups. One of the appointees–Vasil Roinishvili--became the Chairperson of the Board of the Constitutional Court within eight days of his appointment. The election of Constitutional Court judges through such a process supports the belief that the power of the influential group of Common Court judges is strengthened in the Constitutional Court.
According to the current legislation, the President of Georgia can select and appoint a new member of the Constitutional Court behind closed doors, through completely non-transparent procedures. The President has no obligation to justify this decision, which belongs solely to the realm of political responsibility. Given the low trust, such process will further damage the reputation of the Constitutional Court and, on the whole, negatively affect the credibility of this institution.
Curing the problems of the judiciary is one of the fundamental challenges for the country's democratic development. This is confirmed by the Charles Michel Agreement. The constitutional control is an integral competence of the judiciary and plays a special role in maintaining the constitutional order and protecting human rights. Therefore, it is critically important for the President of Georgia to take all possible measures to avoid further damage to the Constitutional Court’s reputation.
In view of the above, we call on the President of Georgia to consider challenges facing the judiciary, the special role of the Constitutional Court, and to act in the spirit of the Constitution of Georgia. The President needs to ensure a transparent and inclusive process for selecting a member of the Constitutional Court so that the public has confidence in both the process and the candidate selected as a result of it.