Constitutional Court of Turkey

The Constitutional Court of Turkey (Turkish: Anayasa Mahkemesi, sometimes abbreviated as AYM) is the highest legal body for constitutional review in Turkey. It "examines the constitutionality, in respect of both form and substance, of laws, decrees having the force of law, and the Rules of Procedure of the Turkish Grand National Assembly" (Article 148 of the Turkish Constitution). If necessary, it also functions as the Supreme Criminal Court (Turkish: Yüce Divan) to hear any cases raised about the President, members of the Cabinet, or presidents and members of the high courts.

Constitutional Court
Anayasa Mahkemesi
Established1961
LocationAnkara
Authorized byConstitution of Turkey
Websitewww.anayasa.gov.tr

Overview

Part Four, Section Two of the Turkish Constitution has established the Constitutional Court of Turkey that rules on the conformity of laws and decrees with the Constitution. It can rule on issues referred to it by the President of the Republic, the government, the members of Parliament, or any judge before whom an exception of unconstitutionality has been raised by a defendant or a plaintiff. The Constitutional Court has the right to both a priori and a posteriori review (respectively, before and after enactment), and it can invalidate whole laws or governmental decrees and prevent their application in future cases. Challenges to a law must be made within the first two months of its promulgation.

Organization

In accordance with Article 146 of the Constitution of Turkey, the Constitutional Court is composed of eleven regular and four substitute members. The President of Turkey appoints two regular members and two substitute members from the Court of Cassation, two regular members and one substitute member from the Turkish Council of State, and one member each from the Military Court of Cassation, the High Military Administrative Court of Appeals and the Court of Accounts, three candidates being chosen for each vacant office by the Plenary Assemblies of each court among their respective presidents and members with the absolute majority of the total number of members. The President also appoints one member from a list of three candidates nominated by the Higher Education Council among members of the teaching staff of institutions of higher education who are not members of the Council, and three regular members and one substitute member among senior administrative officers (usually from governors and ambassadors) and lawyers.

To qualify for appointments as regular or substitute members of the Constitutional Court, members of the teaching staff of institutions of higher education, senior administrative officers and lawyers are required to be over 40 and to have completed their higher education or to have served at least 15 years as a member of the teaching staff of institutions of higher education or to have actually worked at least 1t years in public service or to have practiced as a lawyer for at least 1t years.

The Constitutional Court elects a president and deputy president from among its regular members for a term of four years by secret ballot and by an absolute majority of the total number of members. They may be re-elected at the end of their term of office. The members of the Constitutional Court are not allowed to assume other official and private functions, apart from their main functions.

Composition

# Name Date Selection Office Selected by quota Appoint President Office end
1Zühtü Arslan2012PresidentHigher Education Board (Former President of Turkish Police Academy)Abdullah Gül2024-4-17 17 April 2024
2Serdar Özgüldür2004MemberMilitary Court of CassationAhmet Necdet Sezer2020-12-22 22 December 2020
3Serruh Kaleli2005Vice PresidentExecutive or Lawyer (Lawyer)Ahmet Necdet Sezer2019-05-03 3 May 2019
4Osman Alifeyyaz Paksüt2005MemberExecutive or Lawyer (Former Ambassador of Finland)Ahmet Necdet Sezer2018-11-03 3 November 2018
5Recep Kömürcü2008MemberCourt of CassationAbdullah Gül2020-04-03 3 April 2020
6Engin Yıldırım2010Vice PresidentHigher Education Board (Former Dean of Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences of Sakarya UniversityAbdullah Gül2031-02-09 9 February 2031
7Nuri Necipoğlu2010MemberMilitary Court of CassationAbdullah Gül2018-07-01 1 July 2018
8Recai Akyel2016MemberExecutive or LawyerRecep Tayyip Erdoğan2033-03-29 25 August 2028
9Burhan Üstün2010Vice PresidentCourt of CassationAbdullah Gül2021-03-29 29 March 2021
10Hicabi Dursun2010MemberCourt of AuditorsGNAT2022-10-06 6 October 2022
11Celal Mümtaz Akıncı2010MemberPresident of Bar (Former President of Association of the Bar of Afyonkarahisar)GNAT2022-10-13 31 January 2022
12Yusuf Şevki Hakyemez2016MemberHigher Education Board (Former Associate of Faculty of Law of Ankara University)Recep Tayyip Erdoğan2028-08-25 25 August 2028
13Muammer Topal2012MemberCouncil of StateAbdullah Gül2024-10-13 29 January 2024
14Mehmet Emin Kuz2013MemberExecutive or Lawyer (Former Vice Undersecretary of Presidency of Turkey)Abdullah Gül2024-5-12 12 May 2024
15Hasan Tahsin Gökcan2014MemberCourt of CassationAbdullah Gül2026-3-17 17 March 2026
16Kadir Özkaya2014MemberCouncil of StateRecep Tayyip Erdoğan2014-12-15 18 December 2026
17Rıdvan Güleç 2016 MemberCourt of AuditorsGNAT 18 August 2026

History

The Constitutional Court of Turkey was established on April 25, 1962, according to the provisions of the constitution of 1961. Prior to that date, absolute superiority of the parliament was adopted as a constitutional principle, with no judicial review. There existed no legal institution to review the constitutionality of laws passed by the parliament, and of acts and actions of governments. The social democratic opposition, intellectuals, and the military junta that came into power by military coup on May 27, 1960 supported limitation and control of the parliamentary power in the face of abuses of parliamentary majority by the Democratic Party governments (1950–60) under the premiership of Adnan Menderes. The Justice Party, a descendant of the Democratic Party; as well as Justice and Development Party have rejected the idea of judicial review, pushing for parliamentary superiority.

The first decision the court gave is dated September 5, 1962, which was published on the Official Gazette on October 3, 1962. It was about a direct petition by a certain İnaç Tureren for the annulment of an article of the Law of Criminal Procedure (Ceza Muhakemeleri Usûlü Kanunu - CMUK), which was claimed to be violating the provisions of Article 30 of the constitution. The court turned down the case, stating that individual application to the court was constitutionally impossible.[1]

The first president of the court was Sünuhi Arsan, who served for two years (1962–64). Following the second (Ömer Lütfi Akadlı - 1964-66) and the third (İbrahim Senil - 1966-68) presidents, the court failed to elect a president for 29 months (until 1970) during which it was headed by an acting president.

The articles of the constitution regulating the structure of the court were slightly amended in 1971 and 1973.

Although the constitution of 1961 was annulled by the military regime that came into the power with the military coup of September 12, 1980, the court went on operating. It currently operates according to the constitution of 1982.

Key decisions

  • Decision no. 1989/12, dated 07.03.1989: The Court, in response to then president Kenan Evren's application for annulment of a law passed by parliament, ruled that wearing headscarves in public universities violated the separation of religion and state.
  • Decision no. 1994/2, dated 16.06.1994: The Court ruled to close the Democracy Party (Demokrasi Partisi - DEP), a pro-Kurdish party, on the grounds that it violated the principle of territorial/national integrity and indivisibility.
  • Decision no. 1998/1, dated 16.01.1998: The Court ruled to close the Welfare Party (Refah Partisi - RP), an Islamist party, on the grounds that it was violating the principle of secularism.
  • Decision no. 2001/2, dated 21.06.2001: The Court ruled to close the Virtue Party (Fazilet Partisi - FP), the successor to the Welfare Party. The decision, however, stated that the Court did not consider the FP to be the continuation of the RP, but cited the Islamist policies followed by the party as the main reasons behind the closure.
  • Decision no. 2001/332, dated 18.07.2001: The Court, in response to applications made by regular courts, ruled that some parts of the Amnesty Law passed by the parliament were unconstitutional, which resulted in a minor expansion in the scope of the proposed amnesty.
  • Decision dated 2008/7/30: In the 2008 Justice and Development Party closure trial, the court ruled that the Justice and Development Party did not violate the separation of religion and state and did not close it, but noted that it had become "a center for anti-secular activities" and cut the state's funding of the party's activities by 50%.[2]
  • Decision dated 2009/12/11: The court decided to ban the Democratic Society Party for its links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union. DTP violated Articles 68 and 69 of the Constitution and the Political Parties Law.[3] "The party became a focal point for terrorism against the indivisible integrity of the state.", stated Haşim Kılıç, president of the Court.[3]

See also

References

Further reading

  • Arik, K. Fikret (1962-07-02). "La Cour constitutionnelle turque". Revue internationale de droit comparé (in French). Persée. 14 (2): 401–412. doi:10.3406/ridc.1962.13364.

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