Most people at the Slovenian constitutional court, including Dr Jadranka Sovdat, have more and more trouble tolerating Dr Klemen Jaklič, who, by providing dissenting opinions, contributes to laying bare the misery which currently reigns at the court, as most people there are taking the side of the state and not the side of protecting human rights and basic individual freedoms. Given that in half a year of working at the court Jaklič, in addition to unanimous opinions, offered 15 dissenting opinions, it is not surprising that sources of Dnevnik at the court claim that the majority, who are not taking the side of individuals, believe that Jaklič conveys non-standard self-confidence due to doctorates from Harvard and Oxford as well as his employment at Harvard. “It’s clear that Dr Jaklič has long been a thorn in the side of the dogmatic hard left, and already when he was a candidate for a constitutional judge, left-wing media considered him a problem, even though he was by far the most qualified candidate based on international references,” the political commentator and full professor Dr Matevž Tomščič said for Nova24TV.
Dr Jaklič does not express his opposition to the majority, which decides in favour of the state, only on Thursday debates and closed sessions but also on Twitter, which is how he contributes to laying bare the misery of the current composition of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia. Recently, Jaklič has written that half a year of work at the constitutional court is behind him. “Apart from unanimous decisions, there were also 15 dissenting opinions ruling in favour of the individual, while judges calling themselves left-liberal ruled in favour of the state. The Slovenian fabricated reality is an easy target.”
Jaklič is bothered by the silent majority that has resorted to putting their hands up in lieu of argumentation
At the end of last month, during the event “Najvplivnejši pravniki” (Most Influential Jurists), Jaklič explained the importance of dissenting opinions, describing them as extremely important in an environment that is not developed enough for discourse and argumentation to proceed in full measure. He said that he had come to this conclusion at the constitutional court, which should represent a forum for the most thorough and in-depth argumentation, adding that the argumentation is much more thorough on numerous seminars that he had attended. According to Jaklič, Slovenian courts could be better informed when making their decisions, and he expressed the opinion that in the future there will be a raising in the level of argumentation, pointing out that dissenting opinions represent an important instrument for this. In his appearances on the Ognjišče radio, Jaklič pointed out repeatedly that he does not receive any answers to his arguments from the courts. Regarding one court case, for example, he said that with regards to some of his colleagues, “he is bothered by the silent majority which has resorted to putting their hands up in lieu of argumentation.”
While Jaklič criticises the court for resorting to formalism, the shortcomings at the court have also been acknowledged by people at Dnevnik who did not want to be named. The latter pointed out that deprecating judges is not productive, and the president of the court had her say as well. With regards to ensuring the public character of the work of the constitutional court, the manner of its decision-making and the intention of dissenting opinions, Sovdat said that in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 23 of the Rules of Procedure of the Constitutional Court, the public nature of the work is ensured by the president. “Irrespective of this, a constitutional judge enjoys the right to freedom of expression which also allows him to comment on the work of the constitutional court. He must exercise the right in a way that also protects the dignity of his function and doesn’t adversely affect the reputation of the constitutional court. Every judge is significantly limited in the exercising of all rights as he or she must also protect these values. Therefore, judges must also limit themselves significantly while communicating with the public. The dignity of our function dictates that we’re respectful to others in our statements, which also includes mutual respect.”
Dr Matevž Tomšič points out that he does not understand how it can be controversial for a constitutional judge to publicly express his opinion, since this is something completely normal in serious democracies. “It’s perfectly normal for American supreme judges to publicly speak of their positions, and this is also nothing special in Slovenia.” He recalled the former constitutional judge Matevž Krivic, who had also often publicly expressed his opinion and argued with his colleagues, and this had been perfectly normal.
“What is most problematic for them is that Jaklič highlights certain positions and that he substantiates them very well,” is the clear statement from Dr Tomšič. Regarding the complaints that Dr Jaklič is using Twitter to express his opinions, he said that these lay bare the misery and added that those who feel targeted by Jaklič should offer their own opinions and publicly respond instead of using their journalistic socio-political workers to attack Jaklič in their name. It is clear that the majority, which is not in the service of respecting the human rights of individuals, is bothered when someone holds a mirror up to them using a high level of legal knowledge and a better ability of argumentation.