On Thursday, the Berlin Administrative Court dismissed the action brought by the Socialist Equality Party (SGP) against the Federal Ministry of the Interior and sentenced the party to bear the full legal costs. The SGP sued the ministry on January 24, 2019 because it had listed the party as “left-wing extremist” in its annual report on the protection of the constitution since 2017 and had it monitored by the secret service.
The ruling against which the SGP will appeal has far-reaching consequences. It ties in with the tradition of National Socialist ideological justice and Bismarck’s socialist laws and opens the door for the surveillance and suppression of all opposition to capitalism and arbitrary state decisions.
The court unreservedly supported the protection of the constitution, a democratically illegitimate institution with close links to the radical right-wing scene. The presiding judge Wilfried Peters, who is also the vice-president of the court, and the representatives of the interior ministry, lawyer Professor Dr. Wolfgang Roth and Ministerialrat Reinfeld worked together like a well-rehearsed team during the process.
In its response to the SGP’s complaint, written by Roth, the Ministry of the Interior had already declared the “fighting for an egalitarian, democratic and socialist society”, criticism of militarism and nationalism and rejection of the European Union to be unconstitutional. The court went even further and also declared any criticism of the state to be inadmissible. There are “significant points in the SGP’s program that give reason to assume that the plaintiff wants a different state and a different legal system,” said Judge Peters in his preliminary oral judgment.
The statement of the SGP’s basic program that the state “does not stand as a neutral arbitrator over social conflicts”, it defends “the political rule of the capitalist class” and its very existence proves “that society is divided into irreconcilable classes”, the judge assessed as an attack on the constitution. “The classes are irreconcilable, that sounds very unpeaceful, sounds like war,” he commented. “From this one can deduce that they want a different system, a different state, a different constitution.”
The court declared Article 14 of the Basic Law, which protects private property, to be an inviolable part of the free democratic basic order. This article is not mentioned with any syllable in Section 4 of the Federal Constitutional Protection Act, with which the court justified the judgment.
“The Basic Law may not provide a very clear economic order, but a market-based property order,” said Peters. “Article 14 of the Constitution is therefore a freedom law. But you don’t acknowledge that. They question 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 “Declaration of Principles of the SGP”, in which it says: “In the course of revolutionary mass struggles, new organs must be built that allow the working class – that is, the majority of the population – to participate genuinely democratically.” – “That is something unpeaceful. This is a matter that should be cleared up in a report on the protection of the constitution, ”he commented.
The representatives of the SGP – the party chairman Ulrich Rippert, his deputy Christoph Vandreier and lawyer Dr. Peer Stolle – defended the goals and the program of the SGP during the more than two hours of negotiation. Rippert emphasized that basic democratic rights in Germany had been fought for by the Marxist labor movement and that the SGP was striving to expand democracy, especially to the economy.
Vandreier made a statement at the beginning of the negotiation, which we will publish in full as a separate article. It goes into the historical and current political background of the lawsuit.
Turning to the court, Vandreier warned that a decision for the protection of the constitution and its anti-democratic arguments would have far-reaching consequences: “76 years after the end of the Nazi regime, socialist ideas would again be declared unconstitutional. This would create the basis for the secret service surveillance and ostracism of bookshops that offer Marxist literature, critical scholars and striking workers. It would be the step into a police state. “
After initial attempts to stop Vandreier, Judge Peters let him finish speaking. But in his reasoning for the verdict, he arrogantly brushed aside all his warnings. “Today we heard a lot about history, about Bismarck’s laws, arguments about Karl Marx, etc.,” he said. But all of this is “not relevant” here. The only question is whether the SGP’s program violates the free democratic basic order.
The court rejected two requests from the SGP – to obtain a scientific report and to summon the former President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen, as a witness. The litigation value, on the basis of which the litigation costs are calculated, was set at 20,000 euros, four times as much as usual. Since the SGP was mentioned in a total of four different reports on the protection of the Constitution because of the long time between the complaint and the start of the process, it set the usual value in dispute of 5,000 euros for each individual.