The Constitutional Court this week held what will almost certainly be its last plenary session with the current magistrates . Four of them have expired terms and will leave their post shortly, after the Government and PP agree on their renewal.
His substitutes, in fact, will go through Congress on Tuesday, which will certify his suitability for the position. In parallel, the High Court has intensified its activity in recent months, which has led to a sentence in its time off on six important matters that threatened to be delayed too long, such as the reviewable permanent prison , the floor clauses or the appointment of Rosa Maria Mateoin front of RTVE.
The appeal filed by the PP against the abortion law in 2011 is still the oldest that remains to be settled, although the TC must also rule on more current issues, such as the euthanasia, Rhodes or Celaá laws , among others.
In July, just before the summer break, the High Court already hinted at the acceleration . If at the beginning of the month they overthrew the appointment of Rosa María Mateo to the head of RTVE – appealed by the PP in 2018 -, in the plenary session held on the 13th, 14th and 15th of that month the Constitutional Court ruled on two matters of great significance: the first state of alarm and the ground clauses .
With a narrow margin of six to five, the Plenary gave the green light to Pedro González-Trevijano’s presentation that validated Vox’s complaint, which appealed the state of alarm despite the fact that it voted in favor in Congress. According to the High Court, the strict confinement decreed in March 2020 to contain the coronavirus pandemic should have been done under the umbrella of the state of emergencyand not alarm. The ruling came more than a year after the legal umbrella decreed by the Executive ended, and after it came others who came forward in a similar way. That is, with very tight voting.
President Sánchez greets Pablo Casado, leader of the PP, last Thursday.
This intense activity continued after the summer and lasted until this week. In September, the magistrates ruled on what was the second pending issue with the longest delay: for four years the United We can appeal against certain provisions of the Mariano Rajoy law to protect consumers in terms of floor clauses has been pending . The High Court gave part of reason to the purple ones, eliminating exemptions of judicial costs that benefited the banks.
Likewise, in that Plenary session, an appeal from the Catalan Government that claimed to frame the aid of the Minimum Vital Income was rejected among its powers and began to debate on the appeal against the stoppage of Congress during the confinement, which was also presented by Vox.
The decision on this matter was voted in the following plenary session, held on October 5. Again by a tight margin – six in favor and four against -, the High Court overthrew the decision of the congressional table, in which PSOE and United We Can have a majority, to suspend “the calculation of the regulatory deadlines” that affected to the initiatives that were then in process. For the Constitutional, the right to political participation of the deputies was violated.
The president of the Lower House, Meritxell Batet, replied that the measure was valid for 18 business days and recalled that even the TC adopted a similar measure in its internal functioning when the pandemic broke out.
That flotation missile to the legal armor deployed by the Government to contain the health crisis had a new reply in the Plenary that was held this week, the second of October. The court of guarantees ruled that the second state of alarm, which lasted from November 3, 2020 to May 9 , was not constitutional either. The magistrates – again with a result of six against four – branded as “unreasonable” the six-month extension and the transfer of powers to the autonomous communities.
In addition, the TC also knocked down the capital gains tax. In this case, the appeal against this tax was not presented by any political group, but was derived from a consultation of the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia. In 2017, the Constitutional Court had already called different provisions of the articles unconstitutional , but this week’s sentence deals a major blow to municipal revenues. It has been a resounding decision, which has put the Government in a bind.
Years ago, the PSOE asked for a “global” reform of the tax, although it did not carry it out, which provoked the anger of the municipalities, which are now asking for a crash plan to avoid the estimated losses, which reach 2,500 million annually.. Hacienda is already looking for a solution. Likewise, this week the magistrates also endorsed the conviction for sedition of Carme Forcadell , president of the Parliament when the so-called disconnection laws were approved.
These resolutions leave the way clear for the four incoming magistrates, who are Ramón Sáez Valcárcel and Inmaculada Montalbán , on the part of the PSOE, who will replace Fernando Valdés and Encarnación Roca; and Enrique Arnaldo and Concepción Espejel , on the part of the PP, who enter through Juan José González Rivas, the current president, and Andrés Ollero.
It should be noted that this renewal will not change, for the moment, the balance of forces in the court, which will continue to have a conservative majority for a few months. In June the term of four other magistrates ends, three conservatives and one progressive, and they will be replaced by four names, two given by the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), which currently cannot make appointments.being in office, and two others by the Government.
It remains to be seen whether until then the oldest appeal pending in the High Court, the one presented against the 2010 abortion law by the PP and which is a decade behind schedule, will be resolved.
In addition, other pending accounts that the new court will have will be the appeals against the Executive’s labor equality decree that extends paternity leave to 16 weeks in 2021; against the one that allows suspending evictions of people in situations of vulnerability; against the ‘Celaá law ‘ , named after the former Minister of Education, Isabel Celaá; against changes in the wealth tax in the Budgets; against the euthanasia law , which was approved in March of this year; or againstthe Rhodes Law , the Children’s Law approved and promoted by former Vice President Pablo Iglesias.