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In Support of the Emergency Laws (May 15-16, 1968)

A member of the judiciary committee of the German Bundestag recapitulates the history of the emergency laws and defends them from criticism. He argues that the laws would protect the rule of law in the event of domestic or foreign emergencies.

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Debate in the German Bundestag on the Emergency Laws, May 15-16, 1968

[ . . . ]

Dr. Lenz (CDU/CSU): Mr. President! Ladies and gentlemen! On behalf of the judiciary committee of this house, I would like to present you with the report on the federal government’s bill to amend the Basic Law and on the FDP parliamentary faction’s bill to safeguard order under the rule of law in the event that defense is necessary.

The bill was preceded by almost ten years of public debate on this issue and more than a yearlong discussion of the proposal by the federal government. In November and December of last year, the responsible committees held five public information sessions lasting a total of 45 hours, during which they heard 42 statements by proponents and opponents of a precautionary regulation for a state of emergency. All aspects of this issue were discussed during these public hearings. The draft presented to you remains within the scope of these discussions.

In the weeks following the hearings, the legal committee gave top priority, above all other work, to consultations on the two bills and prepared the draft presented to you today over the course of fifteen sessions, some of which lasted a full day. The judiciary committee completed its factual consultations in early April, with the exception of the item “right to resist.”

The report has been submitted within the stipulated time period. Under these circumstances, there is no basis for allegations of inappropriate haste, let alone “pushing the report through as fast as possible.”

(Applause from the parties of the government coalition)

I would dare to claim that this house has rarely been as well prepared to debate and make a decision on a draft presented to it.

(Renewed applause from the government parties)

I do not wish to provide a detailed description of the content of the bill at this time. There will be, I am sure, sufficient opportunity to do so over the course of the day. Right now, I would just like to make a few clarifications that strike me as important at the moment.

It is not true that this draft paves the way to dictatorship. The parliamentary and constitutional aspects of the present draft will hold up in a comparison with any precautionary regulation for a state of emergency anywhere in the world.

(Applause from the government parties)

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