Saeima rejects controversial Supreme Court candidate

The Saeima today rejected the candidacy of former Constitutional Court chairwoman Sanita Osipova as Supreme Court judge.

Her candidacy attracted support from 40 of 100 lawmakers, while 29 voted against and 16 abstained. In order to approve a judge of the Supreme Court, a candidate must be supported by an absolute majority of the deputies present – that is, the number of votes in favor should be more than those who voted against or abstained combined.

The vacancy appeared after Supreme Court judge Mārīte Zāģere retired on September 15, 2021.

Osipova's term in the position of the Constitutional Court chairwoman expired on February 11.

Osipova has a Doctor's degree in law. Before becoming Constitutional Court chairwoman, she was a professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Latvia and the head of the Department of Rights and History.

Despite her lengthy list of qualifications, she has become a polarising figure among politicians due to Constitutional Court rulings saying that same-sex civil partnerships would not be unconstitutional and on the rights of same-sex parents to parental leave and to inheritance rights, as previously reported by LSM.

During the Saeima debate, critics accused her of political partiality, and votes for and against her candidacy exposed wide divisions among the ruling coalition parties and opposition lawmakers alike. Arguably it was the abstention of most members of the opposition Harmony party that ultimately sealed her fate. 

The rejection of her candidacy was greeted with dismay by supporters and jubilation by opponents. President Egils Levits equivocated on the matter, tweeting: "Saeima has the right to decide upon the appointment of judges. This is provided for by the Constitution. At the same time, the judiciary must be independent. Therefore, the choice of judges must not be politicized. So far, we have almost always avoided it. This tradition of the rule of law must continue."

 

In late 2020 Osipova was voted Latvia's European of the Year by the Non-Governmental Organization European Movement in Latvia.

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