The Federal Council unanimously elected the university professor Ines Härtel as the new judge at the Federal Constitutional Court. This means that the highest German court will also have a lawyer from East Germany for the first time. At the same time, there are now more female judges than judges at the Federal Constitutional Court.
The 48-year-old comes from Staßfurt in Saxony-Anhalt. She specializes in data protection law and digital law. At the Viadrina, she has held the chair for public law, administrative, European, environmental, agricultural and food law since 2014. At the Constitutional Court, she succeeds the judge Johannes Masing, who left after his twelve-year term in office.
The right to propose the vacant position lay with the SPD, which was unable to agree on a candidate for weeks. It was only this week that it became known that Härtel, who was teaching at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder, was going to Karlsruhe.
The decision about his successor had dragged on for weeks. There were several candidates in discussion, but Härtel's name did not appear until this week. Right from the start, the discussion centered around the question of whether a judge from East Germany should switch to the highest German court for the first time. Against this background, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania's Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) said in the Federal Council that Härtel's election was "overdue after 30 years and an important signal".
The decision ends a series of judge changes in Karlsruhe. Just last week, the previous Vice President Stephan Harbarth was appointed the new Court President. He succeeded Andreas Voßkuhle, whose term ended.
The 16 members of the highest German court, who sit in two senates, are each elected half by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. A two-thirds majority is necessary in the elections.