2009 | 6(95) |
Article title

THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL COURT: EVOLUTION OF ITS ROLE IN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM OF GERMANY AND EUROPE (1951-2009) (Federalny Trybunal Konstytucyjny i ewolucja jego polityczno-ustrojowego znaczenia w Niemczech i w Europie (1951-2009)

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This article examines the role that the Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) has played in the system of government of the FRG since its inception, and its significance for the development of constitutional law in the European states. The starting point is a brief review of the most important provisions of the Basic Law of 1949 and the Federal Constitutional Court Act of 1951. A new model of constitutional judiciary established by these acts does not copy the solutions adopted in the USA and Austria even if it follows them. The article also describes the FCC's efforts to get in practice full independence from other supreme organs of the state, during its first difficult years of functioning. As a main factor in the evolution of the FCC one should recognize the establishment, in the second half of the 1950s, of the so-called dogma of fundamental rights which made it possible to assess conformity of statutes with the provisions of Chapter I of the Basic Law. The second half of the 1970s was of special significance for the FCC, when – by way of a 'creative' interpretation of the Basic Law - it prevented or modified the implementation of numerous socio-political reforms introduced by the ruling SPD/FDP coalition. During that period many procedural questions have been resolved. The Federal Constitutional Court is sometimes called the European constitutional court. This phrase may be understood in two ways. First, as a pattern for the reception of legal solutions and the concepts of jurisprudence. From this perspective, it is even called the father or the grandfather of other European constitutional courts. Secondly, as a court which often expresses its opinion on the matters of European integration and is engaged in a dialogue with the European Court of Justice by questioning its views. At the beginning of the 21st century, the challenges faced by the FCC include the progress of European integration in the context of the Lisbon Treaty and the assessment of limitations of fundamental rights in the fight of terrorism.
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  • Piotr Czarny, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Wydzial Prawa i Administracji, ul. Bracka 12, 31-005 Kraków, Poland
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