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A discussion on the function of the administration of justice as a constitutional value was held on the occasion of the commemoration of the Day of the Constitution

25-10-2021

The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania adopted by the People in the referendum of 25 October has marked its 29th anniversary. In the solemn commemoration organised by the Constitutional Court on this occasion, not only congratulatory speeches were made, but also the discussion “The Function of the Administration of Justice as a Constitutional Value” took place.

The participants of the commemoration were congratulated by the President of the Republic, Gitanas Nausėda, the Speaker of the Seimas, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the Minister of Justice, Evelina Dobrovolska, the Chairperson of the Judicial Council, Sigita Rudėnaitė, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, Gintaras Kryževičius, the Rector of Mykolas Romeris University, Inga Žalėnienė, and the Dean of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University, Tomas Davulis, and a video greeting was received from the Prime Minister, Ingrida Šimonytė. The solemn event was attended by the justices of the Constitutional Court, the presidents and judges of courts, legal scholars, and politicians.

Extending his congratulations to the participants of the event, the President of the Republic, Gitanas Nausėda, emphasised the importance of the Constitutional Court in ensuring the protection of the Constitution.

“Not only on solemn occasions, but also in everyday life, we must remember – freedom must be constantly cherished and defended. The active role of the Constitutional Court ensures that constitutional law is developed and takes an exclusive place in the Lithuanian legal system,” the President of the Republic, Gitanas Nausėda, said.

According to the Speaker of the Seimas, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, what we have achieved over the last 29 years has been done on the basis of the Constitution – not only in accordance with the letter of the Constitution, but also in the spirit of the Constitution.

“The adoption of the Constitution has led to the significant strengthening of the state and society. The Constitution undoubtedly continues to be the foundation for the progress of our country. Today, on the occasion of the Day of the Constitution, I address those who have the direct duty to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution. First of all, of course, I address the judicial community. The direct responsibility falls on your shoulders to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals. Do so in good faith, impartially, and effectively. Trust by people in courts and their respect for the state, as well as respect by the country for its people, depends on your actions,” the Speaker of the Seimas, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, said.

The Prime Minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, was pleased to note that our Constitution is the longest living Constitution of Lithuania.

“The stability of the Constitution is a sign of its quality and an objective of each sustainable state. Some details emerge that need to be specified, but the foundation remains and helps us to overcome difficult challenges. It is natural that political discussions often present competing interpretations of the Constitution. It is most important, however, to recognise the underlying issue – the State cannot exist without consensus and agreement. It is possible to clarify them, discuss them, but the foundation of the Constitution allows us to look at each other as citizens of one political community,” – the Prime Minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, said.

The President of the Constitutional Court, Danutė Jočienė, noted in her congratulatory speech that the Constitution consolidates the obligation of the civil People to create and strengthen the State of Lithuania in accordance with the fundamental rules laid down in the Constitution.

“The Constitution shows the direction of the development of the state and society. It is a mature and wise guide of our society, which ensures the stability of the state and concord in society and protects every Person and, at the same time, his/her inherent rights and fundamental freedoms. On the occasion of the Day of the Constitution, I wish that the striving for an open, just, and harmonious civil society and a state under the rule of law, as established in the Preamble to the Constitution, be a beautiful reality for everyone and that inherent human rights and freedoms, from which human dignity is inseparable, be respected and guaranteed in our society”, – Danutė Jočienė said.

In opening the discussion “The Function of the Administration of Justice as a Constitutional Value”, the President of the Constitutional Court, Danutė Jočienė, emphasised that general jurisdiction and specialised courts and judges are the most reliable allies of the Constitutional Court, who actively contribute to the removal of legal acts that are in conflict with the Constitution from the legal system.

“In this mission – ‘to clean’ the Lithuanian legal system from legal acts that are in conflict with the Constitution, thus ensuring the supremacy of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court and ordinary courts are united by the imperative, formulated in paragraph 1 of Article 110 of the Constitution, not to apply laws that are in conflict with the Constitution. The Constitutional Court has held more than once that, if a court, after it has faced doubts regarding the compliance of a legal act applicable in a case with the Constitution, did not suspend the consideration of the case and did not apply to the Constitutional Court so that those doubts could be removed and, if the legal act the compliance of which with the Constitution is doubtful were applied in the case, the court would take the risk of adopting such a decision that would not be a fair one. Therefore, even the fact that the Constitutional Court and ordinary courts sometimes have differing opinions on legal matters should not in any way encourage the avoidance of recourse to the Constitutional Court where legal acts raise doubts in terms of their compliance with the Constitution. I believe that, although in small steps, we will come closer towards each other and, by joining our efforts, we will strengthen the protection of the constitutional rights and freedoms of the person,” Danutė Jočienė said.

Presentations on the topic of the discussion were also given by the Chairperson of the Judicial Council, the Chairperson of the Civil Division of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, and the Acting President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, Sigita Rudėnaitė, and the President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, Gintaras Kryževičius. The speakers, together with a justice of the Constitutional Court, Algis Norkūnas, the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Seimas, Stasys Šedbaras, the President of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, Jolanta Malijauskienė, Prof. Dr. Egidijus Šileikis of the Public Law Department of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University, and Prof. Dr. Toma Birmontienė of the Law School of Mykolas Romeris University, discussed the role of courts in ensuring the protection of the values consolidated in the Constitution, the importance of courts as those first and directly guarding and applying the Constitution, as well as the cooperation between courts and the Constitutional Court. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Vytautas Nekrošius of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University.

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