Last week, the Constitutional Court caused quite a stir with their latest decision on the financing of private schools. The affirmative separate opinion of Constitutional Court judge Špelca Mežnar is even more peculiar. In fact, it seems more like a text written by a student activist from a woodworking school, than an actual separate opinion of a Constitutional Court judge. In writing her separate opinion, in which she continually mentions “neoliberalism,” Mežnar even refers to an article by the far-left philosopher Boris Vezjak and the work of radical LGBT activist Veronika Tašner. Former Constitutional Court and ECHR judge Boštjan M. Zupančič responded to the separate opinion with a humorous comment, describing the opinion as more of an essay than anything else. Except for one translation, Mežnar exclusively cited domestic left-wing activists as her sources. Before the election, she falsely presented herself as a liberal.
When considering the new constitutional initiative regarding the financing of private primary education, the Constitutional Court made it clear that the state does not have to finance 100 percent of the remedial classes, morning care, and extended stay in private elementary schools with publicly valid program. It must, however, fully fund the mandatory part of the program. So we decided to take a closer look at the favorable separate opinion of Constitutional Court judge Špelca Mežnar, to see how strong her argumentation of the decision is. Her separate opinion actually gives the impression of a failed attempt at writing a paper, made by a first-year student of sociology, who, in the hopes of a positive grade, is trying to please the professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences with conformism, instead of knowledge.
In writing the separate opinion, Mežnar refers to the philosopher Vezjak and the work of a radical LGBT activist
Among other things, in her separate opinion, Constitutional judge Mežnar warns of “neoliberalism” several times. She also claims that the 2001 decision protects public education and lets the state decide on how much financing it will provide for the private schools and writes that the 2014 decision is based on the foundations of a “neoliberal” ideology. Here, she refers to the article of the wretched philosopher Boris Vezjak. As we have previously reported on Nova24TV, judge Zvjezdan Radonjić recently wondered whether Vezjak is retarded.
Translation: “This, of course, does not mean that private schools are in any way inferior to public schools, or that I am in favor of hindering their services. On the contrary, experience from foreign countries shows that private schools can be even better than public schools in the long run. They undoubtedly enrich the school environment and contribute to plurality. Unfortunately, they also have a negative impact on social equality and (when financed by public funding) can cause a fatal blow to public education. Since public and private schools are fundamentally differently regulated, different (lower) public funding for private schools is not in conflict with Article 57 (Education and Schooling), nor with Article 14 (Equality before the Law) and in the least with Article 2 of the Constitution (social state).
A social state cannot exist without a public network of publicly funded primary schools that provide quality education and upbringing for everyone. The same is true of public health. If ever, this should really be clear to us in 2020.”
Part of the separate opinion, in which Mežnar clearly shows that she does not understand basic philosophical and economic concepts, education, and the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. As we can see, the Constitutional Court judge, in the year of 2020, does not know that she was supposed to be talking about private schools that implement a publicly valid program, therefore belonging to the network of public schools. It is the same as with private healthcare providers who work with a state concession.
At the end of the separate opinion, Mežnar contradicts herself and clearly makes it known that ideology is more important to her than quality and accessible education and parents’ choice in educating children. She states that experience from foreign countries shows that private schools can be even better than public schools in the long run. “Unfortunately, they also have a negative impact on social equality and (when financed by public funding) can cause a fatal blow to public education,” she writes. However, this time, it was exactly what the Constitutional Court did, which led to inequalities in the affordability of quality private schools. Mežnar’s writing shows that she is concerned with the country losing its monopoly on compulsory education as a means of ideologically indoctrinating children.
In her separate opinion, Mežnar often refers to articles from the collection of scientific papers titled Who is bothered by quality public education? (Komu je napoti kakovostno javno šolstvo?), which was co-published with the Center for the Study of Educational Strategies (Center za študij edukacijskih strategij) and the trade union SVIZ. The editors of the collection are Marjan Šimenc and Veronika Tašner. The latter has previously also worked with the notorious Peace institute (Mirovni inštitut), which is financed by the famous billionaire George Soros, and she has also established herself as a radical LGBT activist.
Boštjan M. Zupančič responded to the separate opinion with a humorous comment
We asked some of the legal experts to comment on Mežnar’s opinion, and most of them said that such writings are not even worth commenting on. And a former Constitutional Court judge and a judge of the European Court of Human Rights Boštjan M. Zupančič responded with a humorous comment. “Špelca’s separate opinion seems like an essay. It’s as if she had to write an essay titled ‘What is my view on compulsory education?’ for homework. Špelca had previously decided to comply with the previous Constitutional Court rulings (2001, 2014), even though they don’t seem all right to her,” Zupančič commented on Mežnar’s separate opinion for the web portal Nova24TV.
When a Constitutional Court judge does not understand legal terminology
Zupančič then continues: “As a result, Špelca focused on the people who have ruled in the previous two decisions on the same subject. Špelca found out that the worldview of individual judges in the previous two positions influenced their different decisions. Since the people deciding were not the same in both cases and, in her opinion, the worldview of all judges is definite, the easiest thing is to just agree in advance on what the end result of the trial should be. The reasons for the ruling, says Špelca, can always be found later, so after the desired result has already been agreed upon. Obviously, this “result trial” cannot be the same when different people are making the decision. Špelca was bothered by this, but then later, she found out that there was an obligation for preliminary rulings, to which subsequent Constitutional Court rulings were (unfortunately) legally bound. These are the precedents. This is called, and I am not sure if Špelca knows this, stare decisis.”
Mežnar’s confusing argumentation
“In the end, Špelca decides to give in to this urgency, and therefore, the opinion is affirmative, not negative … In order to make it obvious that Špelca mastered the subject matter of the essay, she also quotes her sources in 16 notes. With the exception of one translation, these are all voices from her home valleys (Gaber, Kodelja, Vezjka, and so on), which means they are written in a language that Špelca understands. In the end, she figures out that private schools can be even better than public schools, but that was not what prompted her to the affirmative stance. She seems to think that private education can only be funded if there is still some money left over from public education funding. And with all of this, she states that in her opinion, Article 14 of the Constitution (Equality before the Law) is not being violated. She does not explain why she believes that,” Zupančič concludes.
Before the election, Mežnar presented herself as a liberal
Who exactly is Špelca Mežnar? She was elected to the position of a Constitutional Court judge in 2016, when she raised many concerns about her candidacy with her age, as she was only 40 years old at the time. Prior to becoming a Constitutional Court judge, she worked as a researcher at the Institute for Comparative Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, and as a lawyer candidate at the law firms Vrtačnik and Čeferin. Before being elected, she presented her worldview to the media and the public as liberal, which has now turned out to be a lie. It has now become clear that her views are aligned with those of the radical Levica and Social Democrats, so she is a socialist, rather than a liberal, and she is a poor legal expert; otherwise she would interpret the principle of equality before the law differently.
For comparison, one should read the separate opinion of a different Constitutional Court judge. Mežnar’s separate opinion in its entirety is available HERE.