Bundesverfassungsgericht

You are here:

Milestones in the History of the Federal Constitutional Court

Year Selection

Ereignisse ab 1949

1949
23 May 1949The Basic Law Enters into Force
23 May 1949
17 April 1951The Federal Constitutional Court Act Enters into Force
17 April 1951
4 May 1951Karlsruhe Becomes the Seat of the Federal Constitutional Court
4 May 1951
7 September 1951Hermann Höpker-Aschoff Becomes the First President of the Court
7 September 1951
9 September 1951The First Decision
9 September 1951
28 September 1951Ceremonial Inauguration
28 September 1951
22 November 1951First Advisory Opinion
22 November 1951
27 June 1952Status Memorandum
27 June 1952
23 October 1952Prohibition of the Socialist Reich Party
23 October 1952
1949

Ereignisse ab 1955

1955
1956The First Five Years of the Federal Constitutional Court
1956
17 August 1956Prohibition of the Communist Party of Germany
17 August 1956
16 January 1957The “Elfes Judgment” by the First Senate
16 January 1957
15 January 1958The “Lüth Judgment” by the First Senate
15 January 1958
29 July 1959Judgment by the First Senate on the Father’s Final Say
29 July 1959
1955

Ereignisse ab 1960

1960
28 February 1961Judgment by the Second Senate on the “Deutschland-Fernsehen” Television Company
28 February 1961
1960

Ereignisse ab 1965

1965
6 May 1969The Court Moves to the Karlsruhe Schlossbezirk
6 May 1969
1965

Ereignisse ab 1970

1970
1 January 1971Limiting the Justices’ Term of Office
1 January 1971
4 January 1971First Separate Opinion
4 January 1971
31 July 1973Judgment by the Second Senate on the Basic Treaty
31 July 1973
1970

Ereignisse ab 1975

1975
25 February 1975Judgment by the First Senate on Abortion
25 February 1975
197625th Anniversary of the Federal Constitutional Court
1976
16 October 1977Judgment by the First Senate on the Abduction of Hanns Martin Schleyer
16 October 1977
1975

Ereignisse ab 1980

1980
16 February 1983Judgment by the Second Senate on the Dissolution of the German Bundestag Following a Vote of Confidence
16 February 1983
15 December 1983Judgment by the First Senate on the Census Act
15 December 1983
1980

Ereignisse ab 1985

1985
14 May 1985The “Brokdorf Decision” by the First Senate
14 May 1985
1985

Ereignisse ab 1990

1990
23/24 April 1991Judgments by the First Senate on the Reunification of Germany
23/24 April 1991
9 April 1992Judgment by the Second Senate on the Financing of Political Parties
9 April 1992
12 October 1993The “Maastricht Judgment” by the Second Senate
12 October 1993
12 July 1994Judgment by the Second Senate on Out-of-Area Deployments of the Federal Armed Forces
12 July 1994
1990

Ereignisse ab 1995

1995
16 May 1995The “Crucifix Decision” by the First Senate
16 May 1995
10 October 1995Decision by the First Senate on the Quote “Soldiers are Murderers”
10 October 1995
1996Establishment of a Press Office
1996
24 October 1996Decision by the Second Senate on “Killings on the Former Inner-German Border”
24 October 1996
1995

Ereignisse ab 2000

2000
7 July 200150th Anniversary of the Federal Constitutional Court
7 July 2001
8 April 2002Judgment by the Second Senate on the Committee of Inquiry Investigating Donations to Political Parties
8 April 2002
17 July 2002Judgment by the First Senate on the Same-Sex Registered Civil Partnership Act
17 July 2002
18 March 2003The Proceedings on the Prohibition of the NPD are Discontinued
18 March 2003
2000

Ereignisse ab 2005

2005
15 February 2006Judgment by the First Senate on the Aviation Security Act
15 February 2006
4 April 2006Decision by the First Senate on Electronic Profile Searching
4 April 2006
7 May 2007Inauguration of the Extension Building
7 May 2007
30 June 2009Judgment by the Second Senate on the Treaty of Lisbon
30 June 2009
2005

Ereignisse ab 2010

2010
9 February 2010Judgment by the First Senate on the Standard Benefits Paid According to the Second Book of the Code of Social Law (“Hartz IV legislation”)
9 February 2010
4 May 2011Law Concerning Preventive Detention is Unconstitutional
4 May 2011
July 2011Renovation of the “Baumgarten Building”
July 2011
12 September 2012Judgment on the European Stability Mechanism
12 September 2012
14 January 2014Referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a Preliminary Ruling
14 January 2014
26 September 2014The Court Returns to the Karlsruhe Schlossbezirk
26 September 2014
21 October 2014Judgment of the Second Senate on the Right of Bundestag Members to be Informed of Exports of Military Equipment
21 October 2014
17 December 2014Judgment of the First Senate on Inheritance Tax
17 December 2014
2010

Ereignisse ab 2015

2015
27 January 2015Order of the First Senate on Headscarves Worn by Educational Staff
27 January 2015
5 May 2015Judgment of the Second Senate on the Remuneration of Judges
5 May 2015
21 July 2015Judgment of the First Senate on the Child-Care Allowance
21 July 2015
23 September 2015Judgment of the Second Senate on the Second Bundeswehr Deployment in Libya
23 September 2015
15 December 2015Order of the Second Senate Concerning Identity Review
15 December 2015
20 April 2016Judgment of the First Senate Concerning the Federal Criminal Police Office Act
20 April 2016
21 June 2016Judgment of the Second Senate on the OMT Programme
21 June 2016
6 December 2016Judgment of the First Senate on the Nuclear Phase-Out
6 December 2016
17 January 2017Judgment of the Second Senate in the Proceedings for the Prohibition of the NPD
17 January 2017
2015

Alle Ereignisse (geordnet nach Datum)

23 May 1949

The Basic Law Enters into Force

The Basic Law enters into force. Unlike the Weimar Republic’s Staatsgerichtshof, the Federal Constitutional Court is vested with far-reaching competences, including the competence to enforce fundamental rights and to declare statutes void.

17 April 1951

The Federal Constitutional Court Act Enters into Force

The Federal Constitutional Court Act enters into force – almost two years later than the Basic Law, and following a long legislative procedure.

4 May 1951

Karlsruhe Becomes the Seat of the Federal Constitutional Court

The Act on the Seat of the Federal Constitutional Court provides that the Court’s seat shall be “in Karlsruhe for the time being”. For the organisational preparations, the Federal Minister of Justice sets up an office on the premises of the Federal Court of Justice.

7 September 1951

Hermann Höpker-Aschoff Becomes the First President of the Court

Composed of 24 Justices, one of them female, the Federal Constitutional Court takes up its work in the Prinz-Max-Palais in Karlsruhe. Its first President is Hermann Höpker-Aschoff.

9 September 1951

The First Decision

The Second Senate renders the first decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. It relates to the territorial reorganisation of the Laender Baden, Württemberg-Baden, and Württemberg-Hohenzollern, and it temporarily suspends the planned referendum on the foundation of a “Southwest State”.

28 September 1951

Ceremonial Inauguration

The Federal Constitutional Court is ceremonially inaugurated in the presence of Federal President Heuss and Federal Chancellor Adenauer.

22 November 1951

First Advisory Opinion

For the first time, the Plenary of the Federal Constitutional Court delivers an advisory opinion. It is requested by the Federal President and concerns the participation of the Bundesrat in the adoption of a tax law. Two more advisory opinions are issued before this function of the Federal Constitutional Court is abolished in 1956.

27 June 1952

Status Memorandum

In what is known as its Status Memorandum, the Federal Constitutional Court defines itself as a constitutional organ and further explains this status.

23 October 1952

Prohibition of the Socialist Reich Party

In the first proceedings concerning the prohibition of a political party, the First Senate declares the Socialist Reich Party (SRP) unconstitutional.

1956

The First Five Years of the Federal Constitutional Court

During the first five years of the Federal Constitutional Court’s work, around 3,300 proceedings are brought before it.

17 August 1956

Prohibition of the Communist Party of Germany

In the second proceedings concerning the prohibition of a political party, the First Senate holds that the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) is unconstitutional. With 308 printed pages, the judgment is the longest decision rendered to date.

16 January 1957

The “Elfes Judgment” by the First Senate

In its Elfes judgment, the First Senate derives from the fundamental right to freedom of action the individuals right to challenge the constitutionality of a freedom-restricting statute in a constitutional complaint.

15 January 1958

The “Lüth Judgment” by the First Senate

The First Senate pronounces its judgment in the Lüth case. Erich Lüth had called Veit Harlan “the no. 1 Nazi film director” and had called for a boycott of one of his films. The Federal Constitutional Court emphasises the importance of the fundamental right to freedom of opinion, and holds that the effect of the fundamental rights is not restricted to the relationship between state and citizens but also extends to the relationship between citizens.

29 July 1959

Judgment by the First Senate on the Father’s Final Say

The First Senate holds that the father’s final say in disagreements about the exercise of parental power violates the requirement of gender equality.

28 February 1961

Judgment by the Second Senate on the “Deutschland-Fernsehen” Television Company

In its Television judgment, the Second Senate holds that the television company Deutschland-Fernsehen GmbH, founded at the behest of the Federal Government, is unconstitutional.

6 May 1969

The Court Moves to the Karlsruhe Schlossbezirk

The Federal Constitutional Court moves into its official residence, planned by the architect Paul Baumgarten, in the Schlossbezirk, directly adjacent to the Karlsruhe Palace.

1 January 1971

Limiting the Justices’ Term of Office

To strengthen the Justices’ independence, their terms of office is set to 12 years, without the possibility of re-election. Members of the Court who do not agree with a decision taken by the Senate can submit separate opinions.

4 January 1971

First Separate Opinion

The first separate opinion, submitted by Justices von Schlabrendorff, Geller, and Rupp, concerns the “Wiretapping judgment” pronounced by the Second Senate on 15 December 1970.

31 July 1973

Judgment by the Second Senate on the Basic Treaty

The Second Senate finds that the Basic Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic is in conformity with the Constitution. At the same time, it holds that German reunification is a constitutional requirement that obliges all constitutional organs to work towards achieving this objective.

25 February 1975

Judgment by the First Senate on Abortion

The First Senate declares the statutory time-limit model for abortions (Fristenlösung), which exempts abortion within the first three months from criminal liability, unconstitutional.

1976

25th Anniversary of the Federal Constitutional Court

By its 25th anniversary, the Court has received more than 33,000 constitutional complaints and around 60,000 other submissions of various kinds.

16 October 1977

Judgment by the First Senate on the Abduction of Hanns Martin Schleyer

The family of Hanns Martin Schleyer, the abducted president of the German Employers' Association, request the Federal Government to comply with the demands of the terrorist group “Red Army Faction”. In a late-night session, the First Senate concludes that no clear obligations to act can be derived from the Basic Law in a situation like this. The Federal Government does not comply with the kidnappers’ demands. Two days later, the RAF shoots Mr Schleyer.

16 February 1983

Judgment by the Second Senate on the Dissolution of the German Bundestag Following a Vote of Confidence

By a majority, the Second Senate approves the dissolution of the German Bundestag by the Federal President after Federal Chancellor Kohl seeks a vote of confidence, which he loses, to enable him to call new elections.

15 December 1983

Judgment by the First Senate on the Census Act

The First Senate decides that the planned census is unconstitutional in part, and outlines the right to informational self-determination.

14 May 1985

The “Brokdorf Decision” by the First Senate

In its Brokdorf decision, the First Senate lifts bans on demonstrations against the construction of a nuclear power plant and emphasises the importance of the freedom of assembly in the democratic polity.

23/24 April 1991

Judgments by the First Senate on the Reunification of Germany

The Federal Constitutional Court is asked to decide cases relating to the reunification of Germany. In two judgments, the First Senate finds the Unification Treaty constitutional. The first judgment concerns the validity of expropriations in the former Soviet occupation zone; the second case deals with transitional provisions applying to persons who worked in the civil service of the German Democratic Republic.

9 April 1992

Judgment by the Second Senate on the Financing of Political Parties

The Second Senate decides that while the state may contribute to the financing of political parties, the parties must also seek financial support from their members and affiliated individuals.

12 October 1993

The “Maastricht Judgment” by the Second Senate

In its Maastricht judgment, the Second Senate approves Germany’s participation in the foundation of the European Union.

12 July 1994

Judgment by the Second Senate on Out-of-Area Deployments of the Federal Armed Forces

The Second Senate holds that armed deployments of the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces) must be approved by the Bundestag in advance. Deployments of the Bundeswehr abroad within the framework of a system of collective security (such as NATO) are held to be compatible with the Basic Law.

16 May 1995

The “Crucifix Decision” by the First Senate

In its Crucifix decision, the First Senate finds that the display of crucifixes in the classrooms of state-run compulsory schools violates the freedom of religion.

10 October 1995

Decision by the First Senate on the Quote “Soldiers are Murderers”

The First Senate decides that using the Tucholsky quote “Soldiers are Murderers” with regard to Bundeswehr soldiers is not necessarily an insult, but that the protection of personal honour and the freedom of speech must be balanced against each other.

1996

Establishment of a Press Office

The Federal Constitutional Court establishes a Press Office, not least due to strong reactions caused by some recent decisions.

24 October 1996

Decision by the Second Senate on “Killings on the Former Inner-German Border”

The Second Senate decides that killings on the former inner-German border can be prosecuted although these were not punishable in the German Democratic Republic.

7 July 2001

50th Anniversary of the Federal Constitutional Court

For its 50th anniversary, the Federal Constitutional Court opens its doors to the general public, marking the occasion with a public celebration, political cabaret, panel discussions and the exhibition Kunst Macht Würde. Around 30,000 visitors seize the opportunity to visit the highest German court.

8 April 2002

Judgment by the Second Senate on the Committee of Inquiry Investigating Donations to Political Parties

The Second Senate decides that a committee of inquiry mainly serves to protect the parliamentary minority, which is therefore entitled to an appropriate say in the committee’s taking of evidence.

17 July 2002

Judgment by the First Senate on the Same-Sex Registered Civil Partnership Act

The First Senate holds that the same-sex registered civil partnership is compatible with the special protection of marriage and the family.

18 March 2003

The Proceedings on the Prohibition of the NPD are Discontinued

The Second Senate discontinues proceedings to prohibit the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Three members of the Court hold that confidential informants of state agencies who monitor the party’s activities and act as members of its Executive Councils pose an obstacle to the proceedings.

15 February 2006

Judgment by the First Senate on the Aviation Security Act

The First Senate declares void an authorisation to shoot down passenger aircraft intended for terrorist attacks which was granted in the aftermath of 9/11. The fundamental right to life and the guarantee of human dignity forbid the killing of innocent people.

4 April 2006

Decision by the First Senate on Electronic Profile Searching

The First Senate decides that preventive electronic profile searching is compatible with the fundamental right to informational self-determination only if there is a specific danger to important legal interests.

7 May 2007

Inauguration of the Extension Building

The Court’s extension building, designed by the architect Michael Schrölkamp, is inaugurated.

9 February 2010

Judgment by the First Senate on the Standard Benefits Paid According to the Second Book of the Code of Social Law (“Hartz IV legislation”)

The First Senate holds that the fundamental right to a guaranteed dignified minimum existence requires that the amount of social benefits be assessed.

4 May 2011

Law Concerning Preventive Detention is Unconstitutional

Taking significant account of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the Second Senate decides that the law concerning preventive detention is unconstitutional and must be fundamentally amended.

July 2011

Renovation of the “Baumgarten Building”

After more than 40 years, the building of the Federal Constitutional Court needs renovation. During the refurbishment, the Justices and most of the Court’s staff move to the Waldstadt offices.

12 September 2012

Judgment on the European Stability Mechanism

In a preliminary injunction, the Second Senate decides that, subject to certain conditions, the accession of Germany to the European Stability Mechanism is compatible with the Constitution.

14 January 2014

Referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a Preliminary Ruling

In the proceedings on the OMT Decision on measures of the European Central Bank, the Second Senate for the first time refers questions for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

26 September 2014

The Court Returns to the Karlsruhe Schlossbezirk

The Court returns from the Waldstadt offices to the renovated court building next to the Karlsruhe Palace.

21 October 2014

Judgment of the Second Senate on the Right of Bundestag Members to be Informed of Exports of Military Equipment

The Second Senate decides on the scope and limits of the Bundestag’s right to information on permits for exports of military equipment issued by the Federal Government. As a general rule, the Federal Government, must inform, upon request Members of the Bundestag whether the Federal Security Council (Bundessicherheitsrat) has approved or disapproved a certain armaments export transaction.

17 December 2014

Judgment of the First Senate on Inheritance Tax

The First Senate declares §§ 13a and 13b and § 19(1) of the Inheritance and Gift Tax Act unconstitutional. The legislature does have leeway to award tax privileges to small and medium-sized companies in order to ensure their continued existence and to preserve jobs. However, to the extent that it affects not only small and medium-sized companies, it is disproportionate to privilege business assets without providing for an assessment of economic need. The provisions continue to apply, but the legislature must adopt new regulations by 30 June 2016 at the latest.

27 January 2015

Order of the First Senate on Headscarves Worn by Educational Staff

The First Senate decides that a general prohibition on the expression of religious beliefs by outer appearance for educational staff in state schools is incompatible with the freedom of faith and the freedom to profess a belief. In the proceedings, the complainants challenged the sanctions imposed for their refusal to remove a headscarf worn at school for religious reasons, or a woollen hat worn instead.

5 May 2015

Judgment of the Second Senate on the Remuneration of Judges

The Second Senate further defined the criteria for assessing whether the remuneration of judges and prosecutors complies with the principle to provide alimentation that is appropriate to the office. According to these standards, the basic remuneration of the R1 remuneration grade paid in Saxony-Anhalt from 2008 to 2010 is incompatible with Article 33(5) of the Basic Law.

21 July 2015

Judgment of the First Senate on the Child-Care Allowance

In a judgment rendered unanimously, the First Senate holds that the federal legislature has no legislative competence for the child-care allowance and declares the provisions of the Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz), which form the basis for an entitlement to the child-care allowance, to be void.

23 September 2015

Judgment of the Second Senate on the Second Bundeswehr Deployment in Libya

The Second Senate specifies the constitutional standards applying to the right of the Bundestag to participate in decision-making concerning deployments of German armed forces abroad.

15 December 2015

Order of the Second Senate Concerning Identity Review

In individual cases, the protection of fundamental rights by the Federal Constitutional Court may encompass the review of sovereign acts determined by Union law if this is indispensable to protect the constitutional identity guaranteed by Art. 79(3) of the Basic Law. The Second Senate renders this decision with regard to the principle of individual guilt (Schuldprinzip), according to which any criminal sanction presupposes that the offence and the offender’s guilt are proven in a procedure that complies with the applicable procedural rules.

20 April 2016

Judgment of the First Senate Concerning the Federal Criminal Police Office Act

The First Senate decides that the authorisation of the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA) to carry out covert surveillance measures in order to protect against threats from international terrorism is, in principle, compatible with the fundamental rights under the Basic Law. In some respects, however, the current design of the investigative powers does not satisfy the principle of proportionality. Consequently, the Senate declares various provisions within the overall legal structure unconstitutional and determines the conditions subject to which the relevant provisions continue to apply.

21 June 2016

Judgment of the Second Senate on the OMT Programme

Following the suspension of proceedings and the referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling, the Second Senate holds that the Basic Law is not violated by the fact that the Federal Government and the Bundestag have not taken suitable steps to revoke or limit the effect of the policy decision of the European Central Bank concerning the OMT programme, if the conditions formulated by the Court of Justice in its judgment of 16 June 2015 (C-62/14) and intended to limit the scope of the OMT programme are met.

6 December 2016

Judgment of the First Senate on the Nuclear Phase-Out

The First Senate decides that the provisions of the 13th Act Amending the Atomic Energy Act on the acceleration of the phase-out of the peaceful use of nuclear energy is for the most part compatible with the Basic Law. The provisions only violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to property in Art. 14 of the Basic Law to the extent that the introduction of fixed shut-down dates does not ensure that the electricity output allowances initially allocated to each power plant will be used up, and that no settlement with regard to investments made in legitimate expectation of the electricity output allowances granted is provided for.

17 January 2017

Judgment of the Second Senate in the Proceedings for the Prohibition of the NPD

The Second Senate holds that the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) advocates a political concept aimed at abolishing the existing free democratic basic order. However, the NPD is not prohibited as there are no indications that it will succeed in achieving its anti-constitutional aims.