Top court member’s tweet stirs debate
The debate about the Constitutional Court (AYM) has rekindled after a member of the judicial body tweeted a photograph of the court building on Oct. 13.
Engin Yıldırım, a member of the constitutional court, tweeted a photo of the court building taken at night and used the phrase “Lights are on,” a move which is accused by the ruling party as evoking tutelage act.
If the president of the constitutional court and members of the body do not agree, they “should do what is required,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters on Oct. 14.
“It was an unfortunate sharing. I wish he hadn’t done it. If he wants to get into politics, he should. It cannot be considered as an individual sharing. If the president and members of the AYM do not agree, then they should do what is necessary,” he said.
When asked if they consider a change in the structure of the court, Erdoğan said, “God willing.”
Any tweet of a court member does not reflect the institutional view of the court, the constitutional court said in a written statement.
“The posts of any member of the constitutional court on their personal social media account do not reflect the institutional view of the Constitutional Court. As the Constitutional Court stated in its press release on the night of July 15, 2016, it rejects any kind of non-democratic attempt against the constitutional order and stands by the democratic constitutional state,” said the top court.
The twitter post of Yıldırım came on Oct. 14 hours after a local court defied a top court ruling about the former Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) lawmaker, Enis Berberoğlu, who was stripped of MP status in June after his prison sentence was upheld by the Court of Cassation.
In his last Twitter post, where he regretted the debate, Yıldırım said, “My aim was to emphasize that the AYM is a light of the law.”
“I feel sorry for using expressions that go beyond their intended purpose in the message I shared last night. It is not possible for me to deliberately refer to a phenomenon out of the law or democracy,” he said on Oct. 14.
“I shared the photo that I took after my walk in the courtyard of the Constitutional Court without any unlawful implication. It is well known by everyone who knows me that I will not intentionally imply anything out of democracy or do anything illegal. However, I apologize to the public for the message I shared in a way that can be misinterpreted with a human error,” he stated.
Interior Ministry tweeted just minutes after Yıldırım shared a photo of the ministry building and said, “Our lights never turn off.”
“This sharing does not suit a high court member,” Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said over the tweet of Yıldırım.
“The reputation of the Constitutional Court must first be determined by the member of that court,” Gül noted. “Those who long for tutelage lose their capacity to speak in the name of the law. The nation turns the lights on, the nation turns it off.”
AKP Spokesperson Ömer Çelik said, “It is a shameful and a disrespect that a member of the Constitutional Court uses the slogan of the intervention [coup d’etat] for which Turkey has experienced immense pain in the past.”
The debate comes amid a row between Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Constitutional Court President Zühtü Aslan over a top court decision to cancel a provision in the Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings (Law 2911), which read, “demonstrations and marches cannot be held on intercity highways.”
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli earlier had urged the restructuring of the Constitutional Court in line with the new governance system in Turkey, while criticizing the recent rulings of the court.
“It should be essential to save the presidential government system, which is based on the principles of democracy and the will of our beloved nation, from the rusty shackles of institutions that were established after coups. In this context, the Constitutional Court should be restructured in accordance with the nature of the new government system,” he said in a written statement on Sept. 30.