address the robe you are addressing the court But Müller actually spends most of the time at work in his office in his civilian clothes which is how we encounter him today There s a lot of laughter in this room he assures us and suggests we ask for confirmation in the secretary s office next door Even without doing so we re inclined to believe him Unlike in the past the work he does now is largely self paced The greatest gift of this office is that I have so much time to think through complicated issues thorough ly he says Müller steps over to the win dow The curtains have just been pulled back for photos It affords a view of the park and you can even catch a glimpse of part of Karlsruhe Palace I live just behind the castle with my colleague Peter Huber says the judge in the university s guest lecturer house He says it s like a shared apartment We have our own rooms but we have breakfast to gether in the mornings In spite of all the formality and dignity that accom panies the office interactions be tween the judges are not particularly ceremonial Müller and his colleagues often go out for a meal or enjoy a beer together in the evening Huber Müller and the new Vice President Stephan Harbarth are all former politicians who have changed track to take up the office of constitutional judge Switching from one constitutional body to another like this sometimes comes under fire something Müller considers legiti mate but actually off the mark This is a place for different outlooks and realms of experience to come togeth er he says The court deals with the actions of the legislature so individual members of the court with this background can only be a boon Except that they shouldn t dominate the bench After all he says as is so often the case it s the dose that makes the poison Müller s eyes shine brightly as the punch line lands That politicians can be poison is meant seriously but there s a hint of self iro ny there as well is commensurate to the office You won t find Müller wearing his red robe in his office It is reserved for hearings and issuing verdicts Donning the robe not only allows the judge to physically feel the weight of his office but alerts others to the fact that they are no longer dealing with a civilian The robe makes you anonymous says Müller When you of any higher level judiciary Their de cisions are not subject to appeal However they have each committed to preserving the dignity of their office and confidence in the independence of the Court For Müller the dignity of his office stems from the responsibility entrusted to him in his role here The hope is to bear this responsibility in mind he says in a dignified way that The Olympus of German law the hearing room of the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe 45THE MAGAZINE 1 19

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