Today, Wednesday, Christoph Grabenwarter was sworn in as President of the Constitutional Court by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen. Grabenwarter had been the Court’s Vice-President since 2018 and held the presidency on an interim basis since June 2019.
Before the inauguration ceremony, Federal President Van der Bellen emphasized in a brief speech that the Constitutional Court has proven its independence in numerous decisions: “In its jurisprudence, both past and present, the Court has repealed laws regardless of the composition of the government and the reactions to be expected. This is the fundamental task of the judiciary: acting in full independence, irrespective of the individual concerned and without taken wishes and expectations expressed in circles beyond the proceedings into account.”
Moreover, the Federal President underlined Christoph Grabenwarter’s membership in the highly reputed Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. The Commission, an advisory body dealing with constitutional issues and questions regarding the rule of law, has frequently commented on developments concerning the judiciary in Poland and Hungary. His function within the Venice Commission as well as his role as President of the Austrian Jurists’ Forum qualify Christoph Grabenwarter ideally for the office of President of the Austrian Constitutional Court, as noted by President Van der Bellen.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Rajko Knez, President of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia, Peter Huber, Justice at the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and Dieter Grimm, former Justice at the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.
Christoph Grabenwarter was proposed for the Presidency by the Federal Government. As of the inauguration of the new President of the Constitutional Court, the office of the Vice-President has fallen vacant. After notification by the President there will be a call for applications issued by the Federal Chancellor within a month. The future vice-president is, as stipulated in § 147 of the Federal Constitutional Act, to be selected from among judges, administrative officials and university professors holding a chair in law. A degree in law and at least ten years of professional practice in law are additional prerequisites for appointment.