Fidesz confident Constitutional Court will uphold Lex CEU despite adverse legal opinion

June 20, 2017

Fidesz is confident that the Constitutional Court will eventually find Lex CEU constitutional, reports conservative print and online daily Magyar Nemzet based on an anonymous Fidesz MP and former government member’s information.

“They [the Constitutional Court] will surely investigate the law thoroughly . . . so that no one can say that they made a non-considered decision,” an anonymous former government member and current Fidesz MP told Magyar Nemzet in response to whether the law would pass the court, despite the legal opinion issued by former President László Sólyom, former Constitutional Court judge Miklós Lévay, and university teachers and Hungarian Academy of Sciences doctors András Jakab and Zoltán Szente.

“Certain provisions of the law are unconstitutional, therefore the Constitutional Court should . . .  annul the law with retroactive effect,” reads the expert opinion, which concludes that the law limits university autonomy, violates the rights for academic freedom and research, and sets impractical requirements.

Another anonymous Fidesz MP who has a good overview of the case stated that the expert opinion is incomprehensible from a legal point of view:

“The [Hungarian] state does not have a say in what and how should they teach at Central European University, but sets requirements regarding how the institution should operate. The two are not the same.”  However, even this source acknowledged that the short deadline set by the law could be challenged by the Constitutional Court.  “However, even if that is the case, the Constitutional Court could only decide that the legislature must set a looser deadline, at most.”

According to the other mentioned source, the fact that according to the law an intergovernmental agreement must be made with the US Federal Government about CEU could be something that the expert calls an impractical requirement, as the Federal Government has already declared that it is not competent in the case.

“In this case, the Constitutional Court could set a so-called constitutional condition, which means that if the paragraph [regarding the intergovernmental agreement] is changed, the law becomes constitutional,” the source said. “If this is the case, naturally we will amend the law. We could prescribe instead that an agreement must be made between the [Hungarian] government and at least one quarter of the federal states.”

Magyar Nemzet’s sources do not expect that a decision will be made before the judges’ summer holiday, thus it will only be revealed in autumn whether Lex CEU, which President János Áder signed without hesitation, is constitutional or not.