The Berlin Administrative Court dismissed the Socialist Equality Party (SGP) lawsuit against the Federal Home Office and ordered the party to bear the full legal costs of the case on Thursday. The SGP sued the ministry on January 24, 2019 because it had classified the party as “left extremist” in its annual report Verfassungsschutz since 2017, which allows the secret service (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) to monitor it.
The decision, which the SGP will appeal, has far-reaching consequences. It is part of the tradition of National Socialist ideological jurisprudence (Gesinnungsjustiz) and Bismarck’s anti-socialist laws, and opens the door to monitoring and suppressing all opposition to capitalism and arbitrary state power.
The tribunal unreservedly supported the secret service, a democratically illegitimate institution with close ties to the far-right milieu. President of the court Wilfried Peters, who is also the vice-president of the court, and representatives of the Home Office, lawyer Professor Wolfgang Roth and Secretary of State Reinfeld worked together like a well-oiled machine during the procedure.
The Home Office said in its response, written by Roth, to the SGP’s complaint that “to strive for an egalitarian, democratic and socialist society”, to criticize militarism and nationalism and to reject the European Union was unconstitutional. The court went even further and also ruled any criticism of the state inadmissible. There are “considerable points in the SGP’s program which give reason to suppose that the plaintiff wants another state and another legal system,” Justice Peters said in his preliminary oral judgment.
The sections of the SGP Declaration of Principles which declare that the state “does not present itself as a neutral arbiter of social conflicts” and defends “the political rule of the capitalist class”, and the declaration that its very existence proves “that society is divided into irreconcilable classes ”were considered by the judge as an attack on the constitution. “The courses are irreconcilable, it sounds very little peaceful, it sounds like war,” he commented. “From there you can infer that they want a different system, a different state, a different constitution.”
The court declared that Article 14 of the German Basic Law, which protects private property, was an inviolable part of the democratic and free basic order. There is no word on this article in article 4 of the Federal Law on Constitutional Protection, with which the court justified the judgment.
“The Basic Law may not provide a very clear economic order, but a market-based order of ownership,” said Peters. “Article 14 of the Constitution is therefore a law of freedom. But you don’t recognize it. You question the private ownership of the means of production.
The judge repeatedly insinuated that the SGP was seeking a violent overthrow by a minority. He quoted from the “SGP Declaration of Principles” which reads: “During revolutionary mass struggles, new organs must be built to enable the working class, that is, the majority of the population. , to have a truly democratic participation. . “
“It’s something not peaceful. This is a question that should be clarified in a Verfassungsschutz report, ”he commented.
Representatives of the SGP – party chairman Ulrich Rippert, his deputy Christoph Vandreier and lawyer Dr. Peer Stolle – defended the aims and program of the SGP during more than two hours of debates. Rippert pointed out that basic democratic rights in Germany had been defended by the Marxist labor movement and that the SGP was striving to extend democracy, especially to economic affairs.
Vandreier made a statement at the start of the hearing, which we are releasing separately in its entirety. It dealt with the historical and current political context of the trial.
Turning to the court, Vandreier warned that a ruling in favor of the secret services and their anti-democratic arguments would have far-reaching consequences: “Seventy-six years after the end of the Nazi regime, socialist ideas would again be declared unconstitutional. . This would create the basis for Secret Service surveillance and the ostracism of bookstores that carry Marxist literature, critical academics and striking workers. It would be a step towards a police state.
After initial attempts to stop Vandreier, Judge Peters let him finish speaking. But in his judgment, he arrogantly brushed aside all his warnings. “Today we have heard a lot about history, Bismarck’s laws, arguments about Karl Marx, etc.,” he said. But all of that is “irrelevant” here. The only question is whether the SGP’s program violates the basic free democratic order.
The court rejected two requests from the SGP: to obtain a scientific report and to call the former chairman of the Verfassungsschutz, Hans-Georg Maassen, as a witness. The contentious value, on the basis of which the legal costs are calculated, was set at € 20,000, ie four times more than usual. Since the SGP was mentioned in a total of four different Verfassungschutz reports due to the long period between the filing of the complaint and the hearing, the court applied the usual contentious value of € 5,000 to each individual report.