Právny obzor


Ročník 107



T E O R E T I C K Ý  Č A S O P I S  P R E  O T Á Z K Y  Š T Á T U  A  P R Á V A

The Guardians and the Watchdogs: The framing of politics, partisanship and qualification by selected newspapers during the 2018–2019 Slovak Constitutional Court appointment process

Max Steuer, M.A., PhD., Comenius University in Bratislava, Department of Political Science

Právny obzor, 102, 2019, special issue, pp. 34-54.

Published online: 15.1.2020

Abstract. This article aims to place the selection process of judges to the Slovak Constitutional Court, which is most likely to determine its composition for more than a decade, into the context of the constitutional judges’ interaction with other political actors, including the broader public. It illustrates how selected quality Slovak newspapers have framed the role of politics in the selection process. Conceptually, the article departs from a more robust line of research undertaken in several Western democracies, particularly the United States, that has given rise to discussions about how their apex courts interact with the media and, through them, with the public at large. Building on theories of the courts as political institutions and informed by theses on the judicialization and mediatization of politics, the article presents a broader understanding of both the decisionmaking process of constitutional judges and politics emphasizing expertise in their selection. Firstly, the selection of judges and their adjudication might be seen through partisan bias, associated with the attitudinal model of judging, and secondly, it might be perceived as a neutral expertise, associated with the vision of the courts as bureaucratic non-political actors. Surveying selected, primarily opinionated newspaper outputs, the article found a peculiar interaction between the debate surrounding qualification as a necessary justification for a constitutional appointment and the three different frameworks of constitutional judges as political but non-partisan, partisan, or neutral (non-political) actors. Qualification is overwhelmingly seen as a necessary condition for appointing a constitutional judge, regardless of their views. However, disagreements persist as to whether previous political experience disqualifies a candidate. Such disagreement overlies a deeper divide over whether constitutional judges are political actors, and if so, what kind of political actors they are.

Keywords: Slovak Constitutional Court, constitutional judges, appointment process, newspaper portrayal, framing, attitudinal model, institutional approach


ISSN 2729-9228

ISSN 0032-6984


Právny obzor is peer-reviewed journal and is indexed in SCOPUS and HeinOnline database (INDEX TO FOREIGN LEGAL PERIODICALS).


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