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Italian Constitutional Court (Corte costituzionale italiana), No. 170/2018, 20 July 2018

Type Judgment
Case number 170/2018


Participation or membership of political parties by magistrates, including those who are not on the payroll.

Normative references

Article 18, Constitution
Art. 3, Constitution
Art. 2, Constitution
Art. 49, Constitution
Art. 98, Constitution
Art. 3, paragraph 1, D. Lgs. n. 109 del 23/02/2006
Art. 1, paragraph 3, L. n. 269 del 24/10/2006


1. The citizen-magistrate undoubtedly enjoys the fundamental rights referred to in Articles 17, 18 and 21 of the Constitution, the exercise of which enables him to legitimately express his ideas, including political ones, provided, however, that he does so with the balance and moderation that cannot fail to characterise all his conduct of public importance.

2. The provision, as a disciplinary offence, of membership of or systematic and continuous participation in political parties also for magistrates who are not on active duty because they are on leave of absence "for electoral reasons", expresses the balance - entrusted by the Constitution to the legislature - between the freedom of magistrates to associate in political parties and the need to ensure their independence, and the need to ensure their independence and impartiality, including before the public, in order to prevent the conditioning of judicial activity which might result from the stable link which magistrates would contract by joining a party or participating to a significant extent in its activities. 

(The Disciplinary Section of the Superior Council of the Magistracy, by order of 28 July 2017, has raised, with reference to Articles 2, 3, 18, 49 and 98 of the Constitution, questions of constitutional legitimacy of Article 3, paragraph 1, letter h) of Legislative Decree No. 109 of 23 February 2006, insofar as it provides as a disciplinary offence the membership or the systematic and continuous participation in political parties also for magistrates outside the organic role of the judiciary because placed on leave "for electoral reasons").