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Oral hearing in the proceedings „Sanctions imposed under the unemployment benefits scheme in the Second Book of the Code of Social Law“ on Tuesday, 15 January 2019, at 10:00 a.m.
Press Release No. 85/2018 of 10 December 2018
Reference: 1 BvL 7/16
The First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court will conduct an oral hearing on
Tuesday, 15 January 2019, at 10:00 a.m.,
in the courtroom of the Federal Constitutional Court,
Schlossbezirk 3, 76131 Karlsruhe
on a referral of the Gotha Social Court (Sozialgericht) that concerns statutory “sanctions” imposed in the Second Book of the Code of Social Law (Zweites Buch Sozialgesetzbuch – SGB II). §§ 31, 31a, 31b SGB II specify obligations to cooperate for persons entitled to Unemployment Benefits II (Arbeitslosengeld II). A violation of these obligations results in a reduction of benefit payments, based on staggered amounts, for a fixed three-month period in each case. The Gotha Social Court considers these provisions to be unconstitutional. The Social Court states that reducing the amounts payable under the Unemployment Benefits II scheme constitutes an interference with the right to a minimum standard of living in accordance with human dignity (menschenwürdiges Existenzminium) pursuant to Art. 1(1) in conjunction with Art. 20(1) of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz – GG). The Social Court contends that by determining the amount of benefits covering standard needs (Regelbedarf), the legislature defined the minimum standard of living, and that the benefit amount must not fall below this minimum. In this regard, any further reduction would mean that the benefits would no longer satisfy the standard needs, as these needs did not actually change. According to the Social Court, the legislature thus violates the obligation to ensure, based on a realistic assessment, a dignified standard of living at all times.
In the Social Court’s opinion, the referred provisions also violate the fundamental right to freedom of occupation pursuant to Art. 12 GG as they impose an obligation to work enforceable by sanctions, thus impairing the freedom to choose one’s occupation and amounting to an indirect coercion to perform work (Arbeitszwang). The Social Court also raises the question whether the legislative framework violates the right to life and physical integrity pursuant to Art. 2(2) first sentence GG on the grounds that the sanctions might endanger the health of the persons entitled to benefits.
Information for for the General Public
Persons wishing to attend the oral hearing or the pronouncement of the judgment are welcome but must register at the following address:
Postfach 1771, 76006 Karlsruhe, Germany
Phone: +49 721 9101-400
Telefax: +49 721 9101-461
When registering, please indicate your surname, first name, date of birth, and contact data (a phone or telefax number or an e-mail address).
Please refer to the Federal Constitutional Court’s Data Protection Statement for information on the protection of personal data (Arts. 13 and 14 GDPR) in the context of visitor registration. The Data Protection Statement is available on the Federal Constitutional Court’s website under the heading “Data Protection”. You may also request a paper-based version of the data protection statement.
The visitors’ seats will be allocated in the order in which the registrations are received.
Accreditation Requirements and Information for Journalists
The accreditation procedure starts when this press release is published and ends on Thursday, 10 January 2019, at 12:00 am. After this period, accreditation is no longer possible.
Please use the form provided for accreditation requests. The form must be filled in completely and signed. If applicable, a copy of the valid press card must be enclosed; this is only necessary for the first accreditation during the card’s term of validity. The accreditation request may be sent by e-mail to email@example.com or or by telefax to +49 721 9101-461. Accreditation requests sent to other e-mail addresses or telefax numbers of the Court will not be considered.
Members of the Justizpressekonferenz Karlsruhe e.V. may send their accreditation requests to the Federal Constitutional Court’s Press Office without having to use the form.
Accreditation requests will be considered in the order in which they are received. If requests are received simultaneously, accreditation is awarded by drawing lots. A few days after the expiry of the deadline, the Federal Constitutional Court will notify the applicants by e-mail whether their accreditation was successful or not.
Please refer to the Federal Constitutional Court’s Data Protection Statement for information on the protection of personal data (Arts. 13 and 14 GDPR) in the context of the accreditation procedure. The Data Protection Statement is available on the Federal Constitutional Court’s website under the heading “Data Protection”. You may also request a paper-based version of the data protection statement.
Availability and Allocation of Seats
The press gallery in the courtroom holds a total of 42 seats for media representatives, 11 of which are reserved for members of the Justizpressekonferenz. Seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Media representatives who cannot obtain a seat in the press gallery may follow the oral hearing in the press room or – provided seats are available– in the courtroom itself.
There will be an audio transmission from the courtroom to the press room. The press room is equipped with 60 desk workplaces. A limited number of power outlets for laptop computers is available. The Federal Constitutional Court cannot vouch for the capacity of mobile telephone and data networks.
Additional Rules Concerning the Courtroom
It is not permissible to make phone calls, tweet or send other messages, retrieve digital data, or use the internet in any way within or from the courtroom. Allelectronic devices which can be used for these purposes, in particular mobile phones, laptop computers and tablet computers, may not be used in the courtroom. Media representatives may obtain permission to use computers in offline mode in the press gallery if it is ensured that the devices are not used for audio or image recording or for data transmission.
Taking Photographs and Filming; Pooling
1. Taking photographs, filming, and audio recording is permissible until the presiding Justice of the Senate has established the presence of the parties to the proceedings. After that, photographers and camera teams must leave the courtroom level (including the foyer outside the courtroom and the press gallery). They may go to the reception room on the first floor. Pronouncements of judgments may be fully transmitted by audiovisual means.
2. Media pools will be set up for taking photographs and filming in the courtroom. Two television teams (a public and a private television station with a maximum of three cameras each) and six photographers (four agency photographers and two freelance photographers) will be admitted to the courtroom. The pool representatives undertake to supply, upon request, their photographs and films to other radio and television stations, as well as to photographic agencies.
Willingness to be a pool representative must be explicitly stated with the accreditation request. Pool representatives are appointed according to the order in which the accreditation requests are received. If requests are received simultaneously, the function of pool representative is allocated by drawing lots. The television stations, agencies, and photographers so chosen are free in determining the members of their teams.
3. When taking photographs and filming in the courtroom, photographers, camera operators, and other media representatives must ensure that the Senate has an unobstructed field of vision in all directions. Taking photographs, filming, and audio recording from behind the Justices’ bench is not permissible. Instructions to this end by the court staff must be complied with. Taking photographs and filming is only permitted with silent devices and without a flash.
4. After the end of the oral hearing or pronouncement of judgment, and during the lunch break, a period of 20 minutes is allocated for interviewing, filming, or photographing the parties to the proceedings or other individuals in the courtroom itself. After this time, only the reception room on the first floor and the entrance hall on the ground floor are available for this purpose.
Vehicles of Radio and Television Teams; Technicians
There are only a limited number of parking spaces available for SNG vehicles, editing vehicles, and OB vans. If accredited journalists require parking space, they must indicate so along with the accreditation request on the form provided. The parking spaces are allocated in the order in which the requests are received. The following information is required for the allocation of parking space: number plate, vehicle type, make, dimensions (L x W x H in metres), weight and, if applicable, request for the Federal Constitutional Court to provide electrical hook-up.
The names, dates of birth, and ID card numbers of the accompanying technicians, and the vehicle data may be submitted after the request for parking space. The form provided must be used for this. This also applies to media represented by members of the Justizpressekonferenz. The form must be sent by email to the address firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telefax to +49 +721 9101-461, by Monday, 14 January 2019, at 12:00 noon, at the latest.
Media representatives with allocated parking space may set up the equipment on the day before the oral hearing from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and on the day of the oral hearing or the pronouncement of the judgment between 7:00 am and 9:00 am.
Setting up of Studios
The Press Office must be consulted in advance should media representatives wish to set up a studio. Studios may be set up in the reception room on the first floor and in the entrance hall on the ground floor.
This information is based on § 17a of the Federal Constitutional Court Act in conjunction with the supplementary provisions laid down by the First and the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court.