The magistrates confirm the previous sentence of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia
The Supreme Court has confirmed the nullity of the agreement of the Senate of the University of Barcelona (UB), of October 21, 2019, by which the “joint manifesto of the Catalan universities in rejection of the convictions of the Catalan political prisoners and to the judicialization of political life”.
The Fourth Section of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber establishes in a judgment that, within public universities, the University Senate “as a representative governing body of a plural university community, cannot adopt agreements that are taken as the will of the University and that refer to questions of a political or ideological nature, characteristic of the social and political debate, foreign to the object and functions of the University and that divide the citizenry”.
The court thus rejects the appeal filed by the UB against the decision of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia, which confirmed the one handed down by a Contentious-Administrative Court of Barcelona in relation to this matter.
In its extraordinary meeting of October 21, 2019, the Senate of the UB approved said manifesto that published on the University website and in various media.
That agreement was appealed, by the procedure of guardianship of the Fundamental rights, by some professors -one of them was a member of the Senate- and students of that university.
A Contentious-Administrative Court of Barcelona upheld the claim considering that said Senate agreement had no protection of university autonomy, and pointed out that the principles of ideological and political neutrality are required of all Administration, insofar as they must objectively serve the general interests.
It also added that public institutions They don’t have freedom of expression. as the Constitutional Court has declared, and the appellant university is an institutional Administration.
The UB appealed to the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia, that confirmed the judgment of instance.
The Supreme Court recalls that the University Senate is a governing body of a public Administration and that cannot perform more functions than those assigned by a rule, specifically the Organic Law of Universities, which attributes to it the elaboration of the statutes or the election of the Rector, as the case may be.
For this reason, “an eventual misuse of power may be considered” if the principle of neutrality what can be expected from any Administration, “if the University Senate adopts agreements of ideological or political significance and on issues that divide the citizenry”.
An overreach of this nature, -the Chamber specifies- “apart from have no coverage in the content of university autonomy and infringing the principle of neutrality, affects the fundamental rights and freedoms of third parties by identifying the entire university community with a political or ideological postulate”.
The effect is to violate the ideological freedom of the members of that university community and not only of the members of the University Senate, which would affect, for example, “academic freedom, the university education that students expect to receive in coherence with the purposes of the University and that It’s your right.”