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Germany: Security Above the Constitution

The debate about the surveillance scandal brought to light by Edward Snowden's revelations is getting more intense in Germany. Remarks by various politicians contribute significantly to the debate, especially those of the German minister of the interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich, who recently labelled security as a “Super Fundamental Right” and thus placed it above other basic rights.

Udo Vetter brings the observance of fundamental rights to mind in his Law Blog:

Über Epochen haben Menschen darunter gelitten, dass “gut” und “böse” willkürlich definiert werden konnten – zumeist von den Falschen. Es wäre ein unumkehrbarer Fehler, den nunmehr Verantwortlichen ihre Abkehr von den Grundwerten, die sie in Sonntagsreden doch so gerne feiern, durchgehen zu lassen.

For years people have been subjected to arbitrary definitions of “good” and “evil” – most of them from the wrong people. It would be an irreversible mistake to let the people currently responsible get away with a rejection of basic values, which are otherwise so fervently celebrated in soap box oratories.

Julia Dombrowski sees that the German constitution is endangered by the conduct of the government. In her blog she writes:

Auch wenn Menschen mit Entscheidungsbefugnis Fehler machen, selbstsüchtig, machtbesessen, intolerant oder schlicht Arschlöcher sind – nie habe ich geglaubt, dass die Verfassung infrage stand. Selbst dann nicht, wenn Dinge geschahen, die nicht verfassungskonform waren.

Das ist jetzt anders. Regierende Politikerinnen und Politiker, allem voran unsere erste Frau im Staate und ihr Handlanger, der Innenminister, haben unverblümt Sicherheit über andere Rechte gestellt, die uns laut Verfassung zustehen.

Even when people with authority make mistakes, those who are selfish, power-hungry, intolerant or just plain old idiots – never would I have imagined that the constitution would come into question. Especially not when things have happened which aren't even constitutional.

It's different now. Governing politicians, above all our first female leader [Chancellor Angela Merkel] and her sidekick, the minister of the interior, have bluntly placed security above other rights that are protected by the constitution.

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