Former chief justice: President should send more laws back to parliament

Former chief justice Rait Maruste.
Former chief justice Rait Maruste. Source: ERR

Estonia's last presidents have sent regrettably little legislation back to the Riigikogu, former chief justice, Rait Maruste finds. That the head of state makes so little use of her right to reject new and amended laws to have them reassessed is not in the spirit of the Constitution in the best sense, Maruste wrote in an opinion piece for daily Postimees.

"How legislation is promulgated is an important mechanism of state law, intended to keep the constitutional order as well as citizens' basic rights and freedoms from being violated or damaged," Maruste wrote for Postimees, stressing that sending an act of law back to the Riigikogu isn't so much the president's right, but part of an obligatory procedure to ensure that the government functions in a constitutionally appropriate fashion.

If the president makes use of her right to reject legislation and submits her well-argued veto within the 14 days she is granted to do so, this already forces the national parliament to reconsider the matter from the point of view of state law that might otherwise never come up in the first place, Maruste explained.

Should the president's veto fail and the Riigikogu overrule her objections, she still has the possibility to hand the same piece of legislation on to the Supreme Court, where it is then debated once more from an expert point of view, and where the detailed argument solving the issue can then later serve as a set of guidelines in handling the same law.

For the institution of the president to work properly, the incumbent needs to have professional legal services or at least a legal advisor at her disposal, Maruste insists.

Rait Maruste was chief justice of the Estonian Supreme Court from 1992 to 1998, when he was appointed Estonia's judge at the European Court of Human Rights. Maruste has been a member of the Reform Party since 2010 and has served two terms as a member of the Riigikogu as well.

The Office of the President currently has not had a legal advisor since late August 2018. According to the president's press spokesman, Taavi Linnamäe, the Office of the President sees no need to hire a replacement.


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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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