In Hungary, a significant number of governmental decrees and also parliamentary laws were passed under the state of emergency – a specific legal order introduced in relation with the pandemic. The majority of these pieces of legislation were directly connected to the health and economic crisis, however, many concerned other areas. E.g., the Constitutional Court – acting for the first time in its history under a specific legal order – had to examine the constitutionality of laws limiting the freedom of speech, the access to data of public interest, as well as limiting the financial autonomy of local governments.
The presentation will focus on the Slovak constitutional controversies unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. First, it will deal with a more systemic level, as it will discuss two occasions when the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic could review the constitutionality of the declared state of emergency. Second, the presentation will address numerous individual constitutional challenges that dealt with the human rights limitations adopted by the government during the current pandemic. The presentation will end with the articulation of the possible SCC’s emergency decision-making rationale.
The presentation will focus on decision n. 37/2021 of the Italian Constitutional Court (CC), on a conflict of competences on Covid-19 emergency legislation. According to the CC, the adoption of Covid-law is a national competence included within the “international prophilaxys” area, a national competence that in pandemic times, overwhelms (even) the “health” area, a shared competence between the national and the regional legislatures. The case is relevant with reference both to the allocation of powers in the Italian multilevel system of government – with particular reference to health care – and the CC powers.
In particular, the following questions will be addressed:
a. the CC decision timing, focusing on the “standing” issue in front of the CC;
b. the CC and the use of emergency powers (especially suspensive precautionary measures);
c. the CC interpretation of the clause on the allocation of powers between the national and the regional legislatures in the context of the pandemic.
The paper examines the Slovenian Constitutional Court’s case law dealing with the constitutionality of (mainly) governmental measures adopted to contain the pandemic, such as the temporarily prohibition of movement outside the municipality of one’s residence, the temporary prohibition of gatherings of children with special educational needs in educational institutions, the nationwide night-time curfew, and the temporary prohibition of peaceful assembly. Unlike in some other jurisdictions, in Slovenia no state of emergency has been declared. The adopted measures have nonetheless provided a significant impact on lives over a prolonged period of time. They have severely constrained human rights and thus provoked many constitutional challenges. The paper explores various constitutional issues arising from the contested measures in the context of the fight against the pandemic. It also addresses the question whether the Constitutional Court has timely engaged in adjudicating these measures.