La question de constitutionnalité validée par le Conseil constitutionnel

Fronton du Palais Royal, où siège le Conseil constitutionnelAppelé de ses voeux depuis 1993, date de la création de la commission du doyen Vedel, l’un des symboles forts pour les droits et libertés fondamentaux des citoyens, sous le quinquennat de Nicolas Sarkozy, est et restera, à n’en pas douter, l’introduction, par la révision constitutionnelle du 23 juillet 2008, de la « question prioritaire de constitutionnalité » permettant aux justiciables – et c’est une révolution – de contester au cours d’un procès la constitutionnalité d’une loi déjà entrée en vigueur, aux termes de dispositions de l’article 61-1 de la Constitution, lequel instaure en quelque sorte un contrôle de constitutionnalité des lois a posteriori.

Loin de relever d’une discussion d’entomologiste, cette question revêt un enjeu majeur en ce qu’elle permet, sous certaines conditions qui restent à déterminer, de soumettre n’importe quelle loi à la question constitutionnelle, le législateur pouvant mal faire, contrairement à la théorie de Carré de Malberg.

C’est ainsi que par décision n°2009-595 DC du 3 décembre 2009, le Conseil constitutionnel a validé la loi organique relative à l’article 61-1, lequel a été introduit dans la Constitution par la loi constitutionnelle du 23 juillet 2008. Cette réforme comporte trois aspects :

  1. elle permet à tout justiciable de soutenir devant le juge qu’une disposition législative porte atteinte aux droits et libertés que la Constitution garantit ;
  2. elle confie au Conseil d’Etat et à la Cour de cassation – filtre oblige ! – la compétence pour décider si le Conseil constitutionnel doit être saisi de cette question ;
  3. elle réserve au Conseil constitutionnel le pouvoir de trancher la question et, le cas échéant, d’abroger la disposition législative jugée contraire à la Constitution.

La loi organique détermine les règles applicables devant les juridictions du fond, le Conseil d’État et la Cour de cassation et, enfin, devant le Conseil constitutionnel. Elle fixe notamment les conditions de recevabilité de la question de constitutionnalité et précise les modalités et les délais de son examen.

Le Conseil constitutionnel a jugé conforme à la Constitution l’ensemble de la loi organique, ne formulant que quelques réserves d’interprétation :

  1. la loi organique impose l’examen des moyens de constitutionnalité par priorité, avant les moyens de droit international ou communautaire. Le Conseil a jugé que ces dispositions confirmaient la place de la Constitution au sommet de l’ordre juridique interne français sans méconnaître les engagements internationaux de la France ;
  2. la question prioritaire de constitutionnalité ne pourra être posée devant la cour d’assises. Cette disposition a été jugée conforme. Elle est justifiée par l’intérêt de la bonne administration de la justice et ne prive pas le justiciable du droit de poser une question prioritaire de constitutionnalité soit avant le procès d’assises, pendant toute la durée de l’instruction, soit après, à l’occasion d’un recours ;
  3. la loi organique prévoit que la juridiction surseoit à statuer si elle transmet la question au Conseil d’État ou à la Cour de cassation. Le Conseil constitutionnel a jugé l’ensemble de ce dispositif de renvoi et de sursis à statuer conforme. Il a seulement formulé une réserve pour que le justiciable puisse, dans tous les cas, bénéficier de l’abrogation de la norme à laquelle aurait, à sa demande, procédé le Conseil constitutionnel.

La réforme sera complétée par un décret qui précisera les règles de procédure propres à la question prioritaire de constitutionnalité devant les juridictions administratives et judiciaires. Le Conseil constitutionnel fixera en outre, dans son règlement intérieur, les règles de procédure applicables devant lui. Contradictoire, cette procédure donnera lieu à une audience publique. La réforme entrera en vigueur le 1er mars 2010 et sera applicable aux instances en cours à cette date.

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