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1991-06-06 - Constitutional Court, n. 130/1991

Public space · Spain · Religious symbol

Competence of a University to decide of its emblem displaying an image of the Virgin

Key facts of the case - The Action for legal protection brought on grounds of violation of rights and liberties filed by the University of Valencia against the judgment given by Chamber number 3 of the Supreme Court declaring null an amendment of the University Statutes removing an emblem depicting an image of the Virgin of Knowledge (Virgen de la Sapiencia) from the seal and the cote of arms of this Institution.

Main reasoning of the court - The Court upholds the claim. The dispute is limited to establish whether the judicial review of the agreement passed by the Governing Body of the University interferes with the right of autonomy of universities.
The Court firstly indicates that there are no flaws in the proceedings of the meeting of the Constituting Governing Body of the University in which the removal of the image of the Virgin which formerly appeared in the University’s emblem was agreed.
Secondly, and regarding the violation of Article 9.3 CE for deeming that the decision of the Governing Body to remove the said image was arbitrary, the Court states that it is not possible to qualify it as irrational, since the University’s Governing Body’s prerogative to choose its representative symbols falls within the normal content of the self-normative power of the University, and there is no mandatory content whatsoever regarding the criteria that must be followed. Judicial control shall be limited to the legal setting up of the autonomy of universities and shall respect the core of freedom of the decision, since the courts are forbidden to situate the control of compliance with law in the confines of the opportunity of the decision freely passed in the exercise of the autonomy, and surpass it as it has occurred in this case.