Justices of the Constitutional Court
The Constitutional Court is comprised of seven Justices, who are confirmed into office by the majority vote of the Saeima – with at least 51 votes. Three Justices of the Constitutional Court are confirmed upon the proposal by at least ten members of the Saeima, two – upon the proposal by the Cabinet of Ministers, and two – upon the proposal of the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court. The Plenary Session of the Supreme Court selects candidates for the office of a Constitutional Court Justice from among the judges of the Republic of Latvia.
The law provides that a Latvian citizen, who has higher legal education, holds a master or doctoral degree and has at least ten years long experience working as a legal professional or in research and teaching in legal specialism in an institution of research or higher education and who on the day, when a proposal regarding confirming into the office of a Constitutional Court Justice is submitted to the Presidium of the Saeima, has reached 40 years of age, can be confirmed into the office of a Constitutional Court Justice. A person, who pursuant with Section 55 of the law On Judicial Power cannot be a candidate for the office of a judge cannot be confirmed into the office of a Constitutional Court Justice.
The term of office of a Constitutional Court Justice is ten years. During his or her term in office, except for the cases envisaged in Section 10 of the Constitutional Court Law (for example, inability to continue serving due to status of health, a Justice has been sentenced for committing a crime or systematically has failed to perform duties of office), a Justice of the Constitutional Court is irremovable. Irrespectively of the period served in the office of a Constitutional Court Justice, a Justice of the Constitutional Court leaves office upon reaching 70 years of age. A Justice of the Constitutional Court is prohibited from simultaneously taking any other office or any other paid employment, except for pedagogical, research or creative work.
In October and November 1996 the Saeima confirmed into office six of seven Justices of the Constitutional Court: Romāns Apsītis and Anita Ušacka – upon the proposal of the members of the Saeima, Ilma Čepāne and Aivars Endziņš – upon the proposal by the Cabinet of Ministers, and Andrejs Lepsis and Ilze Skultāne – upon the proposal by the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court. On 8 June 2000 the Justice of Supreme Court Juris Jelāgins gave the oath.
On 6 February 2004 Justice Gunārs Kūtris gave the oath, he replaced Anita Ušacka, who, as the representative of Latvia was elected to the office of a Judge at the International Criminal Court. Whereas on 25 March 2004 Aija Branta assumed the duties of the office of a Constitutional Court Justice. She was elected into the office of a Justice to replace Ilze Skultāne, who currently is a Senator at the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court Senate. On 3 July 2006 Ilma Čepāne announced that she was leaving the office of a Justice. Her term of office expired on 11 July 2006.
On 4 January 2007 the term of office expired for Justice Andrejs Lepse, and on 5 January 2007 he was replaced by Uldis Ķinis. The term of office of the President of the Constitutional Court Aivars Endziņš expired on 31 January 2007. On the same day the oath of the Justice was given by Justices Viktors Skudra and Kaspars Balodis. Justice Romāns Apsītis left office on 28 February 2007. On 23 May 2007 the oath of the Justice was given by Justice Kristīne Krūma. On 22 June 2010 the term of office of Justice Juris Jelāgins expired, and on 28 June 2010 he was replaced by Justice Vineta Muižniece.
In May 2011 Justice Viktors Skudra passed away. He was replaced by Justice Sanita Osipova, who came into the office of a Justice on 17 August 2011. In February 2014 Gunārs Kūtris’ term of office expired; he was replaced by Gunārs Kusiņš, who came into the office of the Constitutional Court Justice on 19 February 2014. On 24 April the term of office expired for Justice Aija Branta, on 25 April 2014 she was replaced in office by Aldis Laviņš. Vineta Muižniece left office on 19 June 2014. Ineta Ziemele was confirmed into the office of a Justice to replace her, and Ineta Ziemele came into office on 8 January 2015.
Law provides that the President and the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court are elected by the Justices of the Constitutional Court from among themselves by closed vote, by an absolute majority of the whole composition of the Court for the term of three years. The President of the Constitutional Court heads the sittings of the Constitutional Court, organizes the work of the Court and represents the Constitutional Court. The President and the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court have the right to give instructions to the Justices of the Constitutional Court only in connection with organisational issues linked to performing duties of office.
Since the establishment of the Court until January 2007 the Constitutional Court was headed by Aivars Endziņš, Gunārs Kūtris continued this work until February 2014, but in the period from 28 February to 24 April this was done by Aija Branta. Since 6 May 2014 Aldis Laviņš is the President of the Constitutional Court.
Since 5 March 2014 Udis Ķinis has been the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court.