Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Moderate on the Constitutional Court?

Constitutional Court President Hasim Kilic
PHOTO from Today's Zaman

According to a story from Today's Zaman, Constitutional Court President Hasim Kilic irritated some of his fellow jurists when he made remarks at a conference on judicial reform this Wednesday. As the AKP plans to push for judicial reform, and uses the EU accession process as momentum to do so, Kilic said, "It is a big dishonor that is unacceptable in terms of judicial ethics for one to hide behind the independence of the judiciary in order to better serve one's allies, beliefs or ideology." He recognized that several parties have called for judicial the Political Parties Law and the electione Political Parties Law and the election law. (I presume here he was referring to the 10 percent thresold as well.) In terms of Ergenekon, Kilic said, "No matter who uses state power, they should know that they must account for their actions if they act in an illegal way. This power cannot be used as a tool to make society toe the line by resorting to illegal means. The officials to whom state power is entrusted to do not have the right to threaten, intimidate or scare society by using this power.”

Kilic was the only judge on the Constitutional Court not to vot in favor of sanctioning the AKP in the 2008 closure case, and has been regarded a reasoned moderate (see also Ergun Ozbudun's analysis in 2008). I seem to remember Kilic calling for political parties reform shortly after the closure case, but cannot find a citation.

On Friday, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin met with judges from Supreme Court of Appeals and Council of State to discuss judicial reform, including the AKP's plans to have the government play a greater role in appointments made to the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), long regarded a bastion of secularist power. He met with Kilic later in the day. On Wednesday, President Gul had met with Kilic, who expressed support for judicial reform, but told the president he could not advise the government on a legislative package since the Constitutional Court could well review the constitutionality of the potential reforms at some point in the future.

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