Court-Packing Accomplished – The Changing Jurisprudence of a Subordinate Constitutional Court

Zoltán Szente


The worldwide decline in democracy poses a major challenge to the independence of constitutional courts, which are the guardians of constitutionalism and the rule of law. The international literature on constitutional adjudication is therefore understandably concerned with how judicial independence is undermined in different types of authoritarian regimes. However, less attention has been paid to how the practice of these courts evolves when they are directly or indirectly controlled by the government. This article examines how the practices of the Hungarian Constitutional Court changed following the successful court-packing by its government, which exercised its constitution-making parliamentary majority to subvert the Court, which was once one of the most activist constitutional courts in Europe. In this case, political influence was fullyexercised; this study shows how the Constitutional Court, in order to maintain a semblance of independence, uses several different methods to uphold the government’s will. The Hungarian example may be instructive as it illustrates where the dismantling of judicial independence can lead.


Constitutional Jurisprudence; Court Packing; Hungarian Constitutional Court; Judicial Independence

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