M.Sometimes great traditions are broken by small things. German legal philosophy has long had a special impact on the Spanish and Latin American world. More than in pragmatic Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, the approach of establishing the law in a philosophical-systematic manner is valued there. In the background are the great designs by Kant and Hegel, which play a role, for example, when it comes to determining whether the decision about the evasive maneuver of a car in front of a group of people can be left to an algorithm.
This international connection is cultivated in a special way by the Bonn Chair for Legal Philosophy and Criminal Law. Well-known lawyers such as Hans Welzel and Günther Jacobs have laid larger stones in the foundation of modern criminal law. The future of the chair is uncertain since the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Science threatened the University of Bonn with a reprimand if it gave the candidate the call, which was agreed in two rounds of applications. According to reports, the university no longer wants to fill the chair. About fifty legal scholars from the Spanish and Latin American world from Spain to Peru protested in a letter to the University of Bonn and the ministry. The university does not want to comment on the “pending proceedings”.
The development is all the more annoying as it appears reversible. What happened? After the first appeal process, a rejected applicant had complained that she was wrongly criticized by a member of the appeal committee whom she believed to be biased. The newly tendered procedure therefore took place without him. The applicant, who was again singled out, was offended by the fact that the denomination had been changed in the second round without notice to the applicants, that secondly, an opinion denying her suitability had been submitted in writing instead of orally, and finally that the low proportion of women had not been adequately justified in the appeal committee.
A violation of the law, as the Ministry thinks? More like a farce: The denomination in the second procedure was “Legal Philosophy and Criminal Law” instead of “Criminal Law and Legal Philosophy” as before, so it did not change the content. Whether a written statement instead of a speech makes the result obsolete is at least controversial. And as far as the proportion of women is concerned, the entire procedure, including this point, was approved by the university’s equality officer before she later changed her mind and joined the complaint. The ministry has not yet responded to queries from this newspaper.
The termination is all the more questionable as the university procedure was already completed in October 2020. The Ministry of Science let more than a year pass before joining the complaint. The chair has been orphaned for more than a year, and the university lacks the motivation for a third round of applications. It would only have to give the decided call. In view of the complaints raised by the hair, she has no more to fear the announced reprimand of the ministry than any legal action. It now depends on the rectorate whether the university and science are defended against arbitrary political interference.