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Content updated: 10-08-2020 08:31

The Law on Referendums in its new wording is contrary to the Constitution because it should have been adopted as a constitutional law

30-07-2020

By its ruling passed today, the Constitutional Court has recognised that the Law on Referendums (wording of 20 December 2018), in terms of the procedure of its adoption, is contrary to Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under rule of law and that, in its form, it is contrary to Item 5 of Paragraph 1 (wording of 9 October 2014) of the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court will be officially published in the Register of Legal Acts on 1 July 2021, so until this date the Law on Referendums in its current wording will remain in force and the Seimas will have to adopt a Constitutional Law on Referendums.

Of the ten constitutional laws appearing on the list of constitutional laws, the Seimas has so far adopted only one constitutional law – the Constitutional Law on the Implementation of the Fiscal Treaty of 6 November 2014.

A group of members of the Seimas has applied to the Constitutional Court, considering that, following the adoption by the Seimas of the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws on 15 March 2012 and the inclusion of the Constitutional Law on Referendums in the list of constitutional laws, the Law on Referendums could not be set out in its new wording by adopting it in accordance with the procedure for amending ordinary laws, as established in Paragraph 2 of Article 69 of the Constitution, but should have been adopted in accordance with the procedure for adopting constitutional laws, as laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, i.e. it should have been adopted as a constitutional law.

The institution of constitutional laws is consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, which prescribes: “Constitutional laws of the Republic of Lithuania shall be adopted if more than half of all the Members of the Seimas vote in favour thereof, and they shall be altered by not less than a 3/5 majority vote of all the Members of the Seimas. The Seimas shall establish the list of constitutional laws by a 3/5 majority vote of the Members of the Seimas.” Constitutional laws are also mentioned in Articles 47 and 72 of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court first clarified the content of the constitutional institution of constitutional laws, the concept of constitutional laws and their relationship with acts of constitutional importance, among other things, by revealing the specificities of constitutional laws as regards their legal force, as well as the procedures for their adoption and amendment. 

The fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania 

The Constitutional Court stressed that the fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania – the Resolution of the Council of Lithuania of 16 February 1918 (the Act of Independence), the Act of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania of 11 March 1990 on the re-establishment of the Independent State of Lithuania, and the Declaration of the Council of the Lithuanian Freedom Fight Movement of 16 February 1949 – are not constitutional laws and cannot be equated with them. The Constitutional Court has given an overview of these fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania.

The main of the fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania is the Resolution of the Council of Lithuania of 16 February 1918 (the Act of Independence), which is a constituent act. The Act of Independence of 16 February 1918 established the modern State of Lithuania as a subject of international law; it also enshrines the irreplaceable fundamental principles of the constitutional order of the State of Lithuania – independence and democracy, from which the innate nature of human rights and freedoms is inseparable. Thus, the constitutions of the State of Lithuania, including the Constitution adopted by the citizens of Lithuania through the referendum of 25 October 1992, derive from the Independence Act of 16 February 1918, whose irreplaceable fundamental constitutional principles – independence and democracy, from which the innate nature of human rights and freedoms is inseparable – are enshrined in Article 1 of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court also noted that, in addition to the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918, the constitutional framework of the State of Lithuania also includes the Resolution of the Constituent Assembly (Seimas) of 15 May 1920 on the re-established democratic State of Lithuania, which declared the State of Lithuania a democratic republic.

Another fundamental constitutional act of the State of Lithuania is the Act of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania of 11 March 1990 on the re-establishment of the Independent State of Lithuania, which is a restorative act, by which the Independence of the Republic of Lithuania was restored. This Act derives from the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918, implementing the aforementioned irreplaceable fundamental constitutional principles enshrined therein, as well as from the Resolution of the Constituent Assembly (Seimas) of 15 May 1920 on the re-established democratic State of Lithuania, implementing the aforementioned fundamental provision of that resolution, according to which the State of Lithuania is a democratic republic.

In view of this, the Constitutional Court held that the Constitution adopted by the citizens of Lithuania through the referendum of 25 October 1992 derives not only from the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918 (together with the Resolution of the Constituent Assembly (Seimas) of 15 May 1920 on the re-established democratic State of Lithuania), but also from the Act of 11 March 1990 on the re-establishment of the Independent State of Lithuania. Article 1 of the Constitution must therefore be interpreted in the light, among others, of the state continuity, pointed out in the Act of 11 March 1990 on the re-establishment of the Independent State of Lithuania, and of the constitutional identity of the modern State of Lithuania, established by the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918.

A fundamental constitutional act of the State of Lithuania is also the Declaration of the Council of the Lithuanian Freedom Fight Movement of 16 February 1949 (hereinafter referred to as the Declaration of the LFFM Council of 16 February 1949), which, expressing the will of the People, was adopted by the LFFM Council as the supreme institution of the Republic of Lithuania that fought against the occupation at that time. The Declaration of the LFFM Council of 16 February 1949 enshrines the principles of the restoration of the Independence of the Republic of Lithuania, which are based on the continuity of the State of Lithuania and its constitutional identity to the modern State of Lithuania established by the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918. The Declaration the LFFM Council of 16 February 1949 enshrines the foundations and principles of the future constitutional order of the State of Lithuania, which express the constitutional traditions of the State of Lithuania.

Thus, the Constitution adopted through the referendum of 25 October 1992 also stems from the will of the People to have the independent democratic State of Lithuania, expressed, among other things, in the Declaration the LFFM Council of 16 February 1949, which is derived from the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918 (together with the Resolution of the Constituent Assembly (Seimas) of 15 May 1920 on the re-established democratic State of Lithuania).

This means that, from the point of view of the Constitution of 25 October 1992, the fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania – the Resolution of the Council of Lithuania of 16 February 1918 – the Act of Independence (together with the Resolution of the Constituent Assembly (Seimas) of 15 May 1920 on the re-established democratic State of Lithuania), the Act of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania of 11 March 1990 on the re-establishment of the Independent State of Lithuania, the Declaration of the Council of the Lithuanian Freedom Fight Movement of 16 February 1949 – are pre-constitutional constituent/restorative acts adopted by the supreme institutions that represented the People and expressed its will to establish/restore the independent democratic State of Lithuania. Therefore, these fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania, as primary sources of Lithuania’s constitutional law, can never be amended or repealed.

Summing up, the Constitutional Court stressed that the provisions of the fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania, which have established and implemented the irreplaceable fundamental constitutional principles – independence, democracy, and the innate nature of human rights and freedoms – have supra-constitutional force and cannot be denied by any constitution of the State of Lithuania. On the contrary, the Constitution, as supreme law, enshrines and unconditionally protects these constitutional values. If the Constitution were interpreted in a different way, the preconditions would be created for abolishing the restored “independent State of Lithuania, founded on democratic principles”, as proclaimed by the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918.

The Constitutional Court also noted that the other fundamental provisions enshrined in the fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania and expressing the constitutional traditions of the State of Lithuania are implemented in the Constitution adopted through the referendum of 25 October 1992, after the People have chosen the specific content and specific verbal form of the provisions of this Constitution. The constitutional traditions of the State of Lithuania, which are reflected in the Constitution, may be developed and altered in accordance with the procedure established by the Constitution for amending its provisions. In interpreting the provisions of the Constitution, account should be taken, among other things, of their nature – the will and aspirations of the People, expressed in the fundamental constitutional acts of the State of Lithuania, which are their source. 

The constitutional acts specified in the Constitution 

The Constitutional Court emphasised that the constitutional acts referred to in Article 150 of the Constitution are not constitutional laws and cannot be equated with them.

According to Article 150 of the Constitution, the constitutional acts specified therein – the Constitutional Law on the State of Lithuania of 11 February 1991, the Constitutional Act on the Non-Alignment of the Republic of Lithuania to Post-Soviet Eastern Unions of 8 June 1992, the Law on the Procedure for the Entry into Force of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania of 25 October 1992, the Constitutional Act on Membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union of 13 July 2004 – are a constituent part of the Constitution. The provisions of those constitutional acts therefore have the force of the Constitution and their amendment is subject to the procedure (laid down, explicitly and implicitly, in the Constitution itself) for amending the provisions of these constitutional acts.

According to the Constitution, constitutional laws are not its constituent part. Consequently, constitutional laws adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution must not contradict, among other things, the constitutional acts forming a constituent part of the Constitution in accordance with Article 150 thereof. In addition, the procedure for amending the constitutional acts referred to in Article 150, which are a constituent part of the Constitution established explicitly and implicitly, is different from the procedure, consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, for amending constitutional laws.

The Constitutional Court also explained in detail the procedure, laid down in the Constitution, for amending the provisions of the Constitutional Law on the State of Lithuania of 11 February 1991, those of the Constitutional Act on the Non-Alignment of the Republic of Lithuania to Post-Soviet Eastern Unions of 8 June 1992, those of the Law on the Procedure for the Entry into Force of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania of 25 October 1992, and those of the Constitutional Act on Membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union of 13 July 2004. 

Amendments to the Constitution 

The Constitutional Court emphasised that, under the Constitution, laws amending the Constitution (amendments to the Constitution) are also not constitutional laws and cannot be equated to them.

Laws amending the Constitution, which make amendments to the Constitution, i.e. which amend the provisions of the Constitution and, at the same time, usually modify the overall constitutional regulation, have the force of the Constitution. However, laws amending the Constitution (amendments to the Constitution) are not constituent acts, as they are adopted only in accordance with the rules established in the Constitution itself, which bind both the civic People itself and the People’s representation (Seimas), established under the Constitution. As acts adopted directly by the People or through its representation, the Seimas, laws amending the Constitution (amendments to the Constitution) must comply with substantive and procedural limitations on the alteration of the Constitution, which arise from the Constitution. Therefore, laws amending the Constitution (amendments to the Constitution), although having the force of the Constitution, are subject to constitutional review.

Thus, under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has exclusive competence to decide whether laws amending the Constitution (amendments to the Constitution) are in line with substantive and procedural limitations on the alteration of the Constitution, which arise from the Constitution. A different interpretation of the Constitution would render meaningless the substantive and procedural limitations on the alteration of the Constitution, which arise from the Constitution, and would therefore not create the preconditions for defending the universal values on which the Constitution as supreme law and as a social contract is based, and on which the state as a common good of society is based, as well as would not create the preconditions for protecting these values and the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and, at the same time, for ensuring the supremacy of the Constitution.

Substantive limitations on the alteration of the Constitution are the limitations consolidated in the Constitution in relation to the adoption of constitutional amendments of certain content. The Constitutional Court has revealed in detail the substantive limitations, arising from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution, summarising the previous official constitutional doctrine on this matter.

The procedural limitations on the alteration of the Constitution are the special procedure for the alteration of the Constitution that is consolidated therein. The Constitutional Court has noted that, under the Constitution, different procedures for amending constitutional law and ordinary law are established. The special procedure for the alteration of the Constitution may not be equated with the adoption of laws, among others, constitutional laws. The Constitutional Court also revealed in detail the procedural limitations on the alteration of the Constitution, which are established in the Constitution, summarising the previous official constitutional doctrine on this matter and highlighting the differences in amending the Constitution compared to the procedure for adopting and amending constitutional laws, as laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution. 

Constitutional laws 

In interpreting the concept of constitutional laws, the Constitutional Court has noted that, according to the Constitution, constitutional laws are: (1) constitutional laws directly specified in the Constitution and adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution; (2) constitutional laws included in the list of constitutional laws and adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court drew attention to the fact that a constitutional law is directly indicated in Paragraph 3 of Article 47 of the Constitution, which provides that the relationships of ownership of land, internal waters, and forests must be regulated by means of a constitutional law when these items of ownership are acquired in the Republic of Lithuania by foreign entities.

The Constitutional Court stressed that the provision “The Seimas shall establish the list of constitutional laws by a 3/5 majority vote of the Members of the Seimas” of Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution presupposes that the list of constitutional laws must be established by means of a constitutional law. Such a larger majority of votes of the members of the Seimas for the adoption of the constitutional law establishing the list of constitutional laws than for other constitutional laws is laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution taking into account the special significance of this constitutional law. The constitutional law establishing the list of constitutional laws is not an objective in itself: it establishes a list of laws that should ensure greater stability for regulated social relationships than for social relationships to be regulated by ordinary laws. The Constitution, among others, the provisions of Paragraph 3 of Article 69 and Paragraph 2 of Article 72 thereof, which provide for a more complex procedure for the adoption and amendment of constitutional laws than ordinary laws, shows that constitutional laws should regulate constitutionally important areas of social relationships and particularly important matters of the life of the state and society.

The Constitutional Court also stressed that, according to Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the list of constitutional laws may not be meaningless. As the Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion, under the Constitution, when it passes laws, the Seimas is bound not only by the Constitution, but also by its own laws. This is an essential element of the constitutional principle of a state under rule of law. Thus, according to Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, the constitutional law establishing the list of constitutional laws adopted by the Seimas presupposes the obligation of the Seimas to adopt the constitutional laws specified in this constitutional law, i.e. to regulate the relevant social relationships by means of constitutional laws. In other words, after the adoption by the Seimas of the constitutional law on the list of constitutional laws pursuant to Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, those social relationships must not be regulated by means of lower-ranking legal acts – laws and substatutory legal acts. However, this does not mean that, according to the Constitution, the Seimas may not adopt laws intended for implementing constitutional laws, or that substatutory legal acts may not detail the general rules laid down in constitutional laws.

The Constitutional Court noted that Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution does not stipulate when the Seimas must adopt constitutional laws entered in the list of constitutional laws. According to the Constitution, the mere fact that a constitutional law that must regulate certain social relationships previously regulated by means of an ordinary law is added to the list of constitutional laws does not mean that the ordinary law regulating those social relationships automatically becomes a constitutional law only due to the inclusion of a constitutional law that will regulate the same relationships in the list of constitutional laws. As long as a constitutional law entered in the list of constitutional laws has not been adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the ordinary law governing those social relationships is in force. Such an ordinary law may be amended by the Seimas in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 69 of the Constitution. However, such discretion of the Seimas is bound by the Seimas’ obligation, arising from Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, to adopt the constitutional laws specified therein.

Taking this into account, the Constitutional Court noted that, according to the Constitution, in cases when the Seimas decides to establish a new overall legal regulation of relevant relationships regulated by an ordinary law, where the said relationships, according to the constitutional law establishing the list of constitutional laws, must be regulated by means of a constitutional law, such a new overall legal regulation, under Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, must be established by means of a constitutional law. If Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution were interpreted differently, i.e. that, purportedly, the Seimas has unlimited discretion to adopt constitutional laws included in the list of constitutional laws at any time, the list of constitutional laws, like the above-mentioned obligation of the Seimas to adopt constitutional laws specified in this constitutional law, would be meaningless.

Further in its ruling, the Constitutional Court revealed the legal force of constitutional laws: according to the Constitution, constitutional laws rank lower than the Constitution, but rank higher than laws; all constitutional laws adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, regardless of whether they are constitutional laws directly specified in the Constitution or constitutional laws entered in the list of constitutional laws, have equal legal force; the constitutional law establishing the list of constitutional laws also has the same legal force.

The Constitutional Court also revealed the specifics of the procedure for the adoption and amendment of constitutional laws compared to ordinary laws. First, for the adoption and amendment of constitutional laws, Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution provides for a larger majority of votes of members of the Seimas than for the adoption and amendment of ordinary laws pursuant to Paragraph 2 of Article 69 of the Constitution (which provides for a majority of votes of the members of the Seimas participating in the sitting of the Seimas): constitutional laws, except for the constitutional law establishing the list of constitutional laws (which is adopted by a 3/5 majority of votes of the members of the Seimas), are adopted if more than half of all the members of the Seimas vote for them, and at least a 3/5 majority of all members of the Seimas is required to amend constitutional laws. Second, Paragraph 2 of Article 72 of the Constitution establishes a larger majority of votes of members of the Seimas (at least 3/5 of all members of the Seimas) required to overcome a veto of the President of the Republic on constitutional laws than a majority of votes to overcome a veto of the President of the Republic on ordinary laws (more than 1/2 of all members of the Seimas).

The Constitutional Court has held that, according to the Constitution, the list of constitutional laws is established only by the Seimas, and that this list cannot be adopted by referendum. However, this does not mean that constitutional laws entered in the list of constitutional laws in accordance with the Constitution, as well as constitutional laws directly indicated in the Constitution, cannot be adopted or amended in a referendum. In other words, the requirement that constitutional laws, except for the constitutional law establishing the list of constitutional laws, must be adopted and amended in accordance with the procedure established in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, cannot be absolute.

Under Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the provisions of laws of the Republic of Lithuania may also be adopted by referendum. The Constitutional Court noted that, according to Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Constitution, not only ordinary laws, but also constitutional laws entered in the list of constitutional laws or specified directly in the Constitution may be adopted by referendum; their provisions may be amended by referendum also. A different interpretation of the Constitution according to which, purportedly, the adoption and amendment of all constitutional laws is the exclusive competence of the Seimas, would be incompatible, among others, with: Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, under which the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the People are decided by referendum; Article 4 of the Constitution, under which the People executes its supreme sovereign power, among others, directly; Paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution, under which citizens have the right to participate in the governance of their state, among others, directly; thus, the said competence of the Seimas would be incompatible with the universal and unquestionable values on which the Constitution is founded, such as the attribution of sovereignty to the People, democracy, the recognition of and respect for human rights and freedoms.

It should be noted that constitutional laws adopted by referendum have the same legal force as constitutional laws adopted by the Seimas in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, and the Seimas has the power to amend, in accordance with the procedure established in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution (by not less than a 3/5 majority vote of all the members of the Seimas), constitutional laws adopted by referendum. Under the Constitution, there may not be and there is no confrontation between the supreme sovereign power executed by the People directly and the supreme sovereign power executed by the People through its democratically elected representatives – members of the Seimas. 

The Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws 

By adopting, on 15 March 2012, the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws, the Seimas implemented the provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution “The Seimas shall establish the list of constitutional laws by a 3/5 majority vote of the Members of the Seimas”.

The Constitutional Court drew attention to the fact that, under Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws, referendum relationships, as particularly important social relationships, must be regulated by the Constitutional Law on Referendums. Thus, in order to regulate referendum relationships, it is necessary to adopt a law whose form must be a constitutional law – the Constitutional Law on Referendums. It follows that Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws gives rise to the legislature’s duty to regulate referendum relationships by means of a constitutional law and to adopt such a law in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution (by a majority vote of more than half of all the members of the Seimas). 

The assessment of the compliance of the Law on Referendums with the Constitution and the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws 

Article 1 of the Law Amending the Law (No IX-929) on Referendums, which was adopted by the Seimas on 20 December 2018 and which came into force on 1 January 2019, set out the Law on Referendums in its new wording, among others, by changing the numbering of the articles of this law.

The explanatory memorandum to the Law Amending the Law on Referendums shows that “in view of the abundance of the proposed amendments, it is proposed to set out the law in its new wording”. This explanatory memorandum points out the objective of the draft law – to clarify terms used in the law, as well as its provisions on procedures for organising referendums and campaigning, to increase the number of voting places abroad, set the payment of remuneration for members of voting commissions, prolong the time of voting, and make more precise the provisions on counting votes.

A comparison of the legal regulation set out in the Law on Referendums in its new wording of 20 December 2018 by the Law Amending the Law on Referendums with that laid down previously shows that the Law on Referendums lays down, in more than half of its articles, a different legal regulation of referendum relationships, for instance: a new regulation of some aspects of voter bribery investigation was laid down; additional requirements applicable to draft decisions put to a referendum were established; it was stipulated that, at the request of the representatives of a citizens’ initiative group, the support for drafting the text on a subject proposed for a referendum is provided by the Office of the Government and not the Office of the Seimas; the requirement that signatures on matters that are put to a referendum but whose content and nature are not related to one another must be collected separately was consolidated; the obligation of the Central Electoral Commission was established to ensure compliance with the Constitution and other requirements of a decision proposed for a referendum and to decide on the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum and on the issuing of the forms of the signatures of citizens; the provisions on the processing of personal data and the protection of personal data were clarified and supplemented; cases in which the Seimas does not call a referendum were explicitly defined; a different deadline was set for the rectification of deficiencies in the collection of signatures; the use of electronic means of communication in the organisation and conduct of a referendum was regulated in more detail; the concept of external political advertising was clarified and the obligations of individuals with regard to the handling of such advertising were established; the prohibition on the use of official positions in referendum campaigns was imposed; the procedure for holding debates on public/national radio and television was clarified; previously not established good repute and other requirements to be met by persons nominated as members of referendum commissions were consolidated; the possibility of organising training for the members and chairpersons of referendum commissions in accordance with the procedure established by the Central Electoral Commission was provided for; a new regulation was established, governing situations where a referendum is called or has been called, the Government or an institution authorised by it on the instruction of the Seimas informs the public about the importance of the issue put to a referendum to the life of the state; the organisation of the work of referendum commissions was newly regulated; the procedure for the formation of municipal referendum commissions was amended; the payment of remuneration to members of referendum commissions was newly regulated; instead of postal voting, voting at special polling stations was established; the deadlines for the delivery of referendum ballot-papers to referendum districts were changed; the institution of referendum observers was essentially newly regulated; a new legal regulation of the calculation of votes was introduced; etc. In addition, the Draft Law on Amending the Law on Referendums was registered, submitted at the sitting of the Seimas, was discussed and adopted not as a draft constitutional law.

Taking this into account, the Constitutional Court held that the Law on Referendums (wording of 20 December 2018) substantially revised and newly regulated the procedure for calling, organising, and conducting referendums, i.e. a new overall legal regulation of referendum relationships was established, by adopting the Law on Amending the Law on Referendums as an ordinary law in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 69 of the Constitution. As mentioned above, Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, gives rise to the Seimas’ obligation to adopt, in accordance with the procedure established in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the constitutional laws specified in the list of constitutional laws in the event of the establishment of an overall legal regulation different from that previously laid down for those social relationships, and Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws gives rise to the duty to regulate referendum relationships by means of a legal act whose form is a constitutional law. Therefore, the Constitutional Court drew the conclusion that, by adopting the Law on Referendums (wording of 20 December 2018), the Seimas disregarded the procedure, laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, for the adoption of such a law and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, as well as the form of such a law, laid down in Item 5 of Item 1 of Article 2 of the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws. 

On the official publication of the ruling of the Constitutional Court 

The Constitutional Court recalled that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, a legal act (or part thereof) may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (or part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution. The provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution also mean that a law may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the law in question is in conflict with a constitutional law.

It has been held in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court that, under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court, having assessed, among other things, a legal situation that might arise after a ruling of the Constitutional Court becomes effective, may establish the date of the official publication of that ruling; the Constitutional Court may postpone the official publication of its ruling if this is necessary to give the legislature time to remove the legal gaps that would occur if the relevant ruling of the Constitutional Court were officially published immediately after its public pronouncement at the hearing of the Constitutional Court and if such legal gaps constituted the preconditions for denying in essence certain values defended and protected by the Constitution. The postponement of the official publication of such a ruling of the Constitutional Court is a precondition, arising from the Constitution, for avoiding certain adverse consequences for society and the state, as well as for human rights and freedoms.

Under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, after the official publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court, the Law on Referendums, which has been declared to be contrary to the Constitution and the Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws by this ruling of the Constitutional Court, will not apply from the date of the official publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Therefore, if the ruling of the Constitutional Court in this case were officially published immediately after its public pronouncement at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, there would appear a gap and uncertainty in the legal regulation of calling, organising, and conducting referendums, due to which no referendum could be called, organised, or conducted.

Taking account of the fact that a certain period of time is necessary to remove the said gap and uncertainty in the legal regulation of referendum relationships, this ruling of the Constitutional Court is to be officially published in the Register of Legal Acts on 1 July 2021.

The full text of this ruling of the Constitutional Court is available on the website of the Constitutional Court at https://www.lrkt.lt/lt/teismo-aktai/paieska/135/ta2195/content