In 2009 the Constitutional Court revived the tradition of public discussions of major challenges facing modern Russia.
These meetings were named Senate Readings. By choosing this name, the organizers symbolically reconsidered the history of current Constitutional Court residence – the complex of the Governing Senate in St.Petersburg, which before 1917 housed supreme judicial bodies of the Russian Empire.
First ever Senate Readings took place on April 7, 2009. Subsequently they were held on a regular basis.
Inaugural Senate Readings discussed ideas and tasks of the modern rule-of-law state as it evolves, specifically under circumstances of current economic crisis. The Readings were opened by the President of the Constitutional Court, Doctor of Science in Law, Professor Valery Zorkin. In his lecture Constitutional Basics of Rule of Law in Russia. Issues of Implementation the President emphasized the link between the idea of rule-of-law state and the society’s level of cultural development and its respect for human personality.
At the second Senate Readings, a retired Judge of the Constitutional Court Tamara Morshchakova addressed the topic of the basics of the judiciary system, presenting her report on the Supremacy of Law and Independence of the Judiciary.
Chairman of the Supreme Arbitration Court of Russia Anton Ivanov in his speech at the next Readings reflected on judicial precedents. He opined that Russian judicial system is gravitating towards decisive transition to case-law. Ivanov’s opinion was that such transition would strengthen the system and diminish external pressures on the judges.
Judge of the European Court of Human Rights Anatoly Kovler in his discourse Rule-of-Law state and Human Rights underscored the unquestionable benefits that Russia’s accession to the international system of human rights protection has brought to the country.
Justice Minister of Russia Aleksandr Konovalov in his discourse Law in the Global World expressed concern about the future of the law in the globalizing environment and suggested that the next stage of the development of the civilization may see total absence of the law as an institution.
Subsequent public discussions under auspices of the Senate involved leading academics, public officials, renowned legal scientists, specialists and independent experts in philosophy, sociology, law and economics.