Turkish parliament speaker calls for constitution change to reduce court power

[JURIST] Turkish parliamentary speaker Koksal Toptan [personal website, in Turkish] called Saturday for changes to the structure of Turkey's parliament and constitution [text] in the aftermath of a decision [JURIST report] earlier this week by the Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] striking down recent amendments to the constitution designed to ease a ban on headscarves [JURIST report] in universities. Toptan told a news conference in Ankara that the court had exploited its authority by voiding the amendments, which were passed [JURIST report] by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in February by a vote of 403-107, and that constitutional reform and restoration of the upper house of parliament would be appropriate in the circumstances. He said the court had tried "to seize the power of parliament", and that restoring the senate would take pressure off of the court. The senate was abolished in the 1982 constitution as an unnecessary clog on the legislative process. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

The Constitutional Court struck down the amendments because it found that they violated the country's secular principles. Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party [party website] (AKP) says it proposed the amendments to ensure equal access to higher education, but the pro-secular opposition Republican People's Party [party website, in Turkish] had appealed [JURIST report] to the Constitutional Court, insisting the ban on headscarves was necessary to protect the separation of religion and state.

 

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