The Spanish Supreme Court has confirmed that Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) violated the principle of political neutrality by passing a manifesto in which it rejected the 2019 convictions of the leaders of the Catalan independence process and demanded their release. The administrative disputes chamber of the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by UPF against the decision of the Central Electoral Commission on November 20th, 2019, the court reported.
In 2019 the electoral authority ruled that the manifesto approved by the faculty of the UPF on October 24th, 2019 in relation to the Catalan pro-independence leaders, found guilty of sedition and other offences ten days earlier, "violated the principle of political neutrality enshrined in Article 130.1 of the Spanish Constitution" as well as the Spanish electoral law, the LOREG. The court has now confirmed that "the adoption by the faculty of the aforementioned public institution of the agreement concerned during the election period violated Article 50.2 of the LOREG, which prohibits the use of expressions that coincide with those used by any of the political groups standing for election, and Article 103.1 of the Constitution, as it deviated from the objectivity that must govern its action."
The judges also states that "the representative nature" of the university faculty of Pompeu Fabra University "must abide by the purposes attributed to it by the legislation and its indisputable public funding". They add that "an accord such as the one in question here is not covered by a university's autonomy, nor by the alleged ideological liberty and right to free speech argued by the Pompeu Fabra University".
The chamber also states that, as the Constitutional Court has recalled, the holders of this individual right "which the legal expression 'freedom of expression' is translated into in any of its manifestations, are all citizens," and therefore "it cannot be claimed by a public administration that has no ideological freedom, as it must serve the general interests objectively, without entering into the partisan game."
Thus, the Supreme Court agrees with the Spanish electoral body and dismisses the university's arguments, as it rejects that the manifesto can be justified by the autonomy of a university or the rights to ideological freedom and free speech. This was stated by the Supreme Court's administrative contentious chamber in a ruling made public this Thursday.