DFederal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) wants to change the judges’ law so that extremists are not allowed to participate in jury decisions on guilt and sentence. The Federal Cabinet will discuss a corresponding draft law this Thursday.
So far, only people who “violate the principles of humanity or the rule of law” or who are considered unsuitable because of a job for the GDR state security have been excluded from the jury office.
According to the cabinet draft, which is available to the German Press Agency, in the future it will not be possible to appoint an honorary judge “anyone who offers no guarantee that they will always stand up for the free democratic basic order within the meaning of the Basic Law”.
Baden-Württemberg already has new rules
The state parliament in Stuttgart had already decided on such a regulation for Baden-Württemberg on Wednesday with the votes of the Greens, CDU, SPD and FDP with a view to the upcoming alderman election. A clear signal is being sent to everyone who is trying to undermine the institutions, said Thomas Hentschel, a member of the state parliament from the Greens. “It is not just about protecting the reputation of the judiciary, but also preventing the judiciary from being used as a stage by anti-democratic actors.”
Right-wing extremist groups in particular sensed their chance in the current election, said SPD MP Boris Weirauch. The extremists are shown the red card with the change in the law. The FDP MP Nico Weinmann praised the joint initiative of the four groups: “It is good and right that the democratic groups repeatedly stand up for our constitution together.”
AfD MP Ruben Rupp sharply criticized the change in the law and spoke of a “Lex AfD”. “This law is part of the many attempts to exclude the AfD by means of a political “cordon sanitaire”,” said Rupp. He accused the other parliamentary groups in the Stuttgart state parliament of having a “deeply anti-democratic attitude” and spoke of the introduction of a “general suspicion” through the change in the law. In addition, it is unclear which body is even authorized to determine the constitutional loyalty of applicants.
As honorary judges, lay judges have a responsibility to spend part of their time in courts and make careful decisions “on behalf of the people”. Lay judges not only have a say in the court about guilty or not guilty, they also have their own say in the sentence – together with trained full-time judges and on an equal footing.