Several legal experts on Monday criticized statements by Ada Colau, the social activist who is slated to become the next mayor of Barcelona, saying that she plans to disobey any laws she considers unfair.
If she does, they warned, she could be accused of disobedience and breach of public duty.
“Civil disobedience may be practiced, but it has its consequences,” said Javier Pérez Royo, a professor of constitutional law at Seville University. “Ada Colau should factor that in [...] Laws must be observed by everyone, regardless of one’s opinion on them.”
The day that everyone disobeys the laws they find unfair, we’re going to have a serious problem”
Xavier Arbós, professor of law at Girona University
All the other scholars consulted by EL PAÍS agreed on this point.
“There is no leeway. Failure to comply with the law would force state prosecutors to act, because that is inadmissible,” added Pérez Royo. “I would like to think that it was merely a statement, and that we’ll see the specifics when Colau becomes mayor of Barcelona.”
Xavier Arbós, a professor of constitutional law at Girona University, said it was “very worthy of admiration for someone living in a dictatorship to put justice ahead of the law, but in a democracy, a ruling official cannot violate the laws that he or she does not like.”
“I am amazed at these statements, which I find highly unfortunate,” added Arbós. “The day that everyone disobeys the laws they find unfair, we’re going to have a serious problem.”
Andrés de Blas, a professor of political science at Spain’s UNED distance-learning university, agreed.
“It seems like a nonsensical thing to say. I don’t know what context Ada Colau said it in, but no matter what it was, I am frankly very surprised,” he added.
In an interview with EL PAÍS, Ada Colau said, in connection with her commitment to Catalan independence, that if unfair laws have to be disobeyed, then they will be.
Javier Tajadura, who teaches constitutional law at the Basque Country University, said that “criteria about what constitutes justice are subjective and personal, and if doubts exist regarding a law, then it must be taken up with the Constitutional Court, to see whether it is constitutional or not, not whether it is fair or unfair.”
In the meantime, “laws must be respected because we live under rule of law, and whoever does not observe them is at risk of getting sanctioned.”