Justices of the Constitutional Court
The Constitutional Court has seven justices, who – with a majority of the votes of not less than fifty-one members of the Saeima (Parliament) – shall be confirmed by the Saeima. Three justices of the Constitutional Court shall be confirmed upon the recommendation of not less than ten members of the Saeima, two – upon the recommendation of the Cabinet of Ministers and two more – upon the recommendation of the Plenum of the Supreme Court. The Plenum of the Supreme Court may select candidates for the office of a justice of the Constitutional Court only from among the Republic of Latvia judges.
The Law establishes that a citizen of Latvia, who has university level education and also a master’s degree or a doctorate, and at least ten years’ working experience in a legal profession or in a scientific or educational field in a judicial specialty in a research or higher educational establishment, and who has reached 40 years of age, on the day when the proposal regarding the confirmation as a judge of the Constitutional Court was submitted to the Presidium of the Saeima, may be confirmed a justice of the Constitutional Court. A person, who may not be nominated for the office of a justice under Article 55 of the Law “On Judicial Power”, must not be appointed as a justice of the Constitutional Court.
The term of office of a justice of the Constitutional Court is ten years. A justice of the Constitutional Court may not be removed from office during the term of authority except in cases provided for in Article 10 of the Constitutional Court Law (e.g. if he/ she is unable to continue working because of reasons of health; if he/ she is convicted of a criminal offence; if he/ she regularly fails to perform duties of office). Regardless of the term of activities in the body of the Constitutional Court, a justice of the Constitutional Court shall retire from the office of a justice upon reaching the age of 70. A justice of the Constitutional Court may not fill another office or have other paid employment except in a teaching, scientific and creative capacity.
In October and November of 1996 the Saeima approved six of the Constitutional Court justices: Romāns Apsītis and Anita Ušacka – upon the proposal of the Saeima deputies; Ilma Čepāne and Aivars Endziņš – upon the proposal of the Cabinet of Ministers; Andrejs Lepse and Ilze Skultāne – upon the proposal of the Plenum of the Supreme Court. The seventh justice of the Constitutional Court Juris Jelāgins took up office after swearing the oath on 8 June 2000.
On 6 February 2004 the oath was taken by justice Gunārs Kūtris, who replaced the justice Anita Ušacka – she – as the representative of Latvia – was elected a justice of the International Criminal Court. In her turn since 25 March 2004 Aija Branta took up the office of a justice of the Constitutional Court. She was elected a justice to replace Ilze Skultāne, who at the present moment is a Senator of the Supreme Court Senate Administrative Cases Department. In July 2006 Ilma Čepāne announced she is leaving the office, in October she was elected deputy of the Saeima.
On 4 January 2007, the term of office of a justice Andrejs Lepse expired, and on 5 January 2007 his position was occupied by Uldis Ķinis. The term of office of the President of the Constitutional Court Aivars Endziņš expired on 31 January 2007. On the same date, the oath of a justice was taken by justices Viktors Skudra and Kaspars Balodis. A justice Romāns Apsītis abandoned the position of a justice on 28 February 2007, and on 23 May 2007 the oath of a justice was taken by a justice Kristīne Krūma. On 22 June 2010, the term of office of a justice Juris Jelāgins expired, and he was substituted by a justice Vineta Muižniece on 28 June 2010.
On May 2011 passed away justice Viktors Skudra. On 17 August 2011 his position was occupied by justice Sanita Osipova.
The Law determines that the President of the Constitutional Court and Vice-President shall be elected for a period of three years from the members of the Constitutional Court by an absolute majority vote, by secret ballot of the entire total of the justices. The President of the Constitutional Court presides at sessions of the Constitutional Court, organizes the work of the Court and represents the Constitutional Court. The President of the Constitutional Court and the Vice-President may give orders to justices of the Constitutional Court in matters of performing organizational duties of the office only.
Since 1 February 2007, the president of the Constitutional Court is Gunārs Kūtris, and the vice-president of the Constitutional Court, since 2011, Aija Branta.