The judiciary has a decisive say in the pandemic.

The 2-G rule in Lower Saxony's retail trade no longer applies because the Higher Administrative Court has declared it to be disproportionate.

Ban on accommodation, curfews at night, mask requirement at schools - there is hardly a Corona measure that has not already been the subject of a legal dispute.

Some things were canceled, others confirmed.

The judgments do not only move the citizens who have sued and the state government that issued the regulation.

You are playing right in the middle of the heated debate about what is necessary in the fight against Corona and what is excessive.

Some comments are correspondingly quick-tempered, sometimes lacking the necessary respect for the judiciary. The board of directors of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, recently spoke of “little judges” who “stand up” and “overturn” measures that scientific and political bodies would have laboriously wrested. Winfried Kretschmann, the Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister of the Greens, has complained that he had to "grapple" with the courts during the pandemic. The courts provide evidence that the rule of law works even in an exceptional situation such as a pandemic. And as a thank you they become a buffer stop for the Corona frustration.

But even before the pandemic, it was not only AfD politicians who misappropriated if they did not like a judgment.

The North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) should be remembered, who appealed to the courts to heed the “legal perception of the population” after a judgment ordered the return of an Islamist threat to Germany.

After all, he apologized for it.

The judiciary is not sacrosanct

The objection that any criticism of a judgment would be counted as an attack on the third power does not apply. The judiciary is not sacrosanct. The FDP Federal Minister of Justice has shown how to do it: In the spring, Marco Buschmann, at that time still a parliamentarian in the opposition, lodged a constitutional complaint against the federal emergency brake. The ruling from Karlsruhe is diametrically opposed to his position. The Minister-designate did not hide his disappointment, publicly saying that he wanted a different outcome and adding that he respected the decision.

The verbal derailments are an indication that the judiciary has lost its reputation.

According to a representative survey by the Allensbach Institute last year, a majority of Germans have confidence in the courts, but only a third said they have “great respect” for judges, and only a third think that everything is right in German courts Do things and dishes work conscientiously and thoroughly.

An alarming finding.

Trust is the most important asset of an independent judiciary.

But even it cannot guarantee the conditions on which it lives.

Perhaps even less so than the executive and legislative branches, because the judiciary has “no sword and no wallet,” as Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, once so aptly put it.

The judiciary has to leave the comfort zone

But too much is at stake for judges to sit back in resignation and dream of the awe of the old days.

The judiciary is also called upon to leave the comfort zone.

This includes the admission that even judges are not per se right, that they too make mistakes.

Error culture is more than a reference to the possibility of making corrections in the instance.

A little has happened in the judiciary's public relations, but not enough. Of course, judges speak primarily through their judgments. But that shouldn't be a pretext to avoid an argument. Judges have the opportunity to explain the basic principles of a decision, as was the case recently with a constitutional judge on the decision on the federal emergency brake. It would be desirable if more did that.

The federal and state governments have a duty to better equip the courts.

Vacancies have to be filled quickly, dilapidated buildings refurbished and technology brought up to date.

The salary must also be reasonable in the first few years of employment.

It is not a good sign when young lawyers, and especially women lawyers who decide to pursue a career in the judiciary, only ever hear the question of whether they are doing it for the family.

With the pact for the rule of law, the federal and state governments have taken the first step; further efforts are required.

That too is a question of respect.

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