In a major victory for people around the world pushing back against the COVID19 panic that has gripped far too many governments, Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled on July 14th that the European nation’s strict stay-at-home lockdown order declared March 14, 2020, under a ‘State of Alarm’ was unconstitutional.
Although the court upheld many of the emergency declaration’s provisions, according to the Associated Press ” the court said provisions ordering the population off the streets except for shorts shopping trips, unavoidable work commutes, and other essential business violated Spain’s Constitution.” Spanish state-broadcaster TVE called the ruling a split decision with six of the magistrates ruling against the lockdown and five dissenting.
Spanish newspaper El Pais clarified the ruling, “Article 116 of the Spanish Constitution describes three legal categories for emergency situations: state of alarm, state of emergency and state of siege (in Spanish: estado de alarma, estado de excepción and estado de sitio).” The Government of Spain was under the first stage or “state of alarm” at the time the lockdown was imposed and the Supreme Court ruled that the Government’s powers under a state of alarm were insufficient to order the lockdown.
While the United States by comparison has a rather straightforward system that allows for a broad-ranging “State of Emergency” set up by Title 50 USC Chapter 34, the Spanish Constitution is extremely nuanced and cautious in granting emergency powers to the Federal government. This isn’t unusual when you consider that as recently as 1975 Spain was ruled by a fascist dictator: Francisco Franco who took power after the Spanish Civil War and ruled for almost forty years.
The Socialist Government Of Spain Is Very, Very Angry
The Coalition Government of Spain currently led by Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón is reported to have reacted “angrily” to the Constitutional Court’s ruling. According to sources within ‘La Moncloa’, the Prime Minister’s seat of power, Sánchez “respects the ruling but was surprised by its “unprecedented nature,” adding that the decree approved by the Cabinet “was absolutely essential to save lives.” as reported by El Pais.
The legal challenge to the lockdown originated from the far-right “Vox party” (Irony), which holds a total of 3 seats in the 265 member Cortes Generales, the Spanish Parliament. The Socialists in Spain are holding onto power only just barely since they lack a firm majority in either the (Upper House) Senate or (Lower House) and must wrangle eight other left-leaning parties in order to get anything done. To say this will be a setback for the unstable coalition is putting things mildly.
US News reports, Vox leader Santiago Abascal called Wednesday for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to step down.
“We cannot celebrate the decision because we have proof that the government was willing to break the law and tarnish the constitution,” Abascal said.
The Spanish Socialist’s Democrat-Socialist brethren her in the U.S. should take note: an unconstitutional government is an illegitimate government.
The Backlash of an Unconstitutional Decision
They continued writing about the ticking timebomb for Madrid that could lead to renewed protests in the streets as we’ve seen break out in Emmanuel Macron’s France.
“Legal experts said until the court’s full decision is released, it won’t be clear if the ruling will open the gates to lawsuits against the government.
Fernando Simón, a constitutional law professor at the University of Navarra, said the Constitutional Court could limit the state’s legal exposure from the thousands of citizens who received fines for violating restrictions on movement during the state of emergency.
“This ability is reasonable because if the impact of the decision is taken to the extreme, it could create chaotic situations,” Simón told The Associated Press in an email.”
If the final ruling allows for it: the Government of Spain could be BURIED in lawsuits and legal challenges to fines imposed on thousands of innocent Spaniards who just tried to live their lives in the face of an outbreak with a 99%+ survival rate. Hopefully, other nations take this as a precedent for their citizens to fight back against the COVID-fueled overreach that reigns throughout the EU. How many other nations upon legal examination will find their COVID responses to be unconstitutional?