More than a year ago a group of Danish citizens started work on taking out a summons against the government for breaching the constitution in connection with the mutual support obligation for recipients of social security.
As it will have great significance to all Danes that have been or are going to be affected by disease or unemployment, this case is estimated by many to become one of the largest cases against the government.
A year ago the case was taken out of its mold, and it is now on its way to the Ministry of Justice. An application for legal aid for all plaintiffs has been applied for in the ministry’s Department of Civil Affairs.
Nothing much has, however, happened in the past year regarding the application for legal aid in the constitutional case, and this raises some fundamerntal questions. A year ago the Department of Civil Affairs stated that it would normally take them six months to consider the case. These six months have gone a long time ago. The steering committee behind the constitutional case knows that the application for legal aid has been made ready for ruling at the Department of Civil Affairs, and this is not exactly news.
This raises this crucial question: Is the ruling in the case of legal aid being shelved by the Department of Civil Affairs or politically? There are politicians and political parties that have an interest in the case against the government and the local authorities does not go any further. And there are sufficient political motives for individual politicians to want the case shelved. And if the application has really been shelved, the question is by whom? The Department of Civil Affairs? Politically or in collaboration? Judge for yourself.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister share a political interest in protecting the individual departmental minister – in this case the then Minister of Employment, Mette Frederiksen.
The Ministry of Justice and the present Minister of Justice, Mette Frederiksen are the Department of Civil Affairs’ highest authorities. They both have a joint interest in the constitutional case either making slow progress or being definitely shelved. The present Minister of Justice is the very same Mette Frederiksen that was Minster of Employment at the presentation and passing of the social security reform.
The Department of Civil Affairs shares the same interest in the ruling regarding the legal aid application making slow progress as the Ministry of Justice, as the ministry is the department’s highest authority and the department can thus ‘protect’ its minister.
Overall, from where I stand, one can see a picture emerging – a picture of political interest in the Department of Civil Affairs not ruling on legal aid in the constitutional against the government and several local governments about the mutual support obligation for recipients of social security before the upcoming general election, despite the case already being ready for a ruling in the Department of Civil Affairs.
Anyone who is going to decide whether others can be allowed to take out a summons against their boss, must observe the strictest neutrality in the matter. In my opinion most would be considered disqualified. Here we have a case about a majority in parliament breaching the constitution and an authority – the Department of Civil Affairs, subordinate to the parliament – going to issue a ruling that is ready.
I cannot say whether the Department of Civil Affairs is disqualified in cases against ther government or in cases against a parliamentary majority. But I do not find it in accordance with the rule of law and unproblematic that a government department has to come to a ruling in a case like this.
The minister is playing a double role – first as Minister of Employment and now as Minister of Justice – and this may be the reason why the Department of Civil Affairs is dragging its feet in the ruling on legal aid in this constitutional case. A person playing a double role – as Mette Frederiksen is in this case – would have been disqualified in any other context.
Why a ruling being ready in the Department of Civil Affairs has not been finished yet is not clear. It is, however, clear – obviously clear – that the ruling in some way is dragging on to the inconvenience of the citizens. Whether this has a political reason I cannot say – as I cannot say whether there is or has been improper political intervention in the case. I can only say that this has happened before in cases involving politicians.
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