East German lawyer Ines Härtel is the new judge at the Federal Constitutional Court. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier officially presented her with the certificate of appointment. With the previous university professor, "for the first time a judge from the Federal Constitutional Court was elected who can refer to an original East German biography and bring it into everyday life in the court," said Steinmeier.
The Federal Council elected Härtel to her judicial office last Friday. Steinmeier said that she was a "highly qualified lawyer". With her, there are for the first time more women (nine) than men (seven) among the 16 judges at the two senates of the highest German court. The 48-year-old comes from Staßfurt in Saxony-Anhalt and 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, Härtel succeeds judge Johannes Masing, who has resigned after his twelve-year term in office. Steinmeier presented him with the dismissal certificate and awarded him the Federal Cross of Merit in one of his highest grades. Masing's term of office had actually expired in April. The SPD-led countries had the right to propose the successor. However, they were only able to agree on Härtel as a candidate after a long dispute. The Federal Council then voted unanimously in early July.
With the appointment of Härtel, a major change of judge in Karlsruhe has now been completed. He particularly concerned the head of the highest German court, where Andreas Voßkuhle was replaced by Stephan Harbarth as president. The term of office of constitutional judges is limited to twelve years. The 16 members of the highest German court, which sit in two senates, are each elected half by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. A two-thirds majority is necessary in the elections.