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2023.03.16 13:47

Lithuanian parliament appoints three Constitutional Court justices

Jūratė Skėrytė, BNS 2023.03.16 13:47

The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday appointed Stasys Šedbaras, Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, law professor Tomas Davulis, and Supreme Court Judge Aurelijus Gutauskas as Constitutional Court justices.

Šedbaras, nominated by Supreme Court President Gabrielė Juodkaitė-Granskienė, received 85 votes in favour to 38 against and ten abstentions in a secret ballot. Two votes were invalidated.

Gutauskas, nominated by Seimas Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, was appointed in a vote of 131 to one with one abstention.

The appointment of President Gitanas Nausėda’s candidate Davulis was backed by 114 MPs, seven voted against, and 13 abstained.

The opposition criticized Šedbaras’ nomination as a political appointment.

“I certainly have no comment as far as the professionalism of my colleague Šedbaras is concerned. But we all understand what image is being created when an active politician goes to the Constitutional Court,” MP Agnė Širinskienė told the parliament before the vote on Thursday.

She called on her fellow MPs to evaluate “what it would look like in a democracy when, without any cooling-off period, a person becomes a judge and starts to evaluate his own draft laws and those of the party he represents”.

MP Jurgis Razma of the ruling conservative Homeland Union said he was pleased that opposition MPs see Šedbaras as competent for the job.

“Do we think that if a highly qualified lawyer stops being a politician, he will not be able to grasp the change and work objectively as a Constitutional Court justice?” he said.

Šedbaras served as a Constitutional Court justice between 1993 and 1996 during the court’s first term. His past career also includes the posts of the interior minister and president of the High Administrative Court of Lithuania. He has been a member of parliament since 2008.

Šedbaras said he has suspended his membership in the Homeland Union, but he does not hide his conservative views.

Davulis has been working at Vilnius University since 1998. He was appointed vice-dean of the Faculty of Law in 2003 and served as its dean from 2012 to 2022.

Gutauskas has served as a judge of the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court since 2013. He held the post of the division’s chairman between 2017 and 2022.

The Constitutional Court consists of nine justices, each appointed for a single nine-year term of office.

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