German courts: "duty of neutral conduct with respect to ideological and religious matters"

Zenaan Harkness zen at
Mon Mar 2 16:54:01 PST 2020

Germany's Federal Constitutional Court has ruled to "establish a duty of neutral conduct with respect to ideological and religious matters".  The cause in this case was a female law student/ trainer lawyer wanting to wear a burka whilst conducting herself in normal court procedures as a lawyer or "court representative".

This appears to be a foundational ruling - one which will have significance, and be referred to, for years to come - and possibly one which will stand as a leg to defend the "a-religious" nature of Western political (resting on legal) institutions.

This ruling on the face of it makes no judgment about any particular religion (unless one cynically names "Western jurisprudence" a religion of course, as valid as such a perspective may be), only that religious expression or dominance is to not be a part of the (German in this case/ for the moment/ pursuant to this ruling) legal system.

One can infer that to the extent litigants choose to bring before the courts any matters which they choose to couch as religious matters, for example the age of consent, that the courts will refrain from imposing the ideology of any particular religion as the foundation for their rulings and judgments in relation to such matters brought before the courts.

Notably, this position taken by the German superior court does not inherently preclude religious arguments/grounds (either for or against) any particular matter brought before the courts, only that the courts ("ought not" at least according to this precedent) do not bring a pre-conceived religious foundation to its determinations of such matters.

One can say that this precedent appears to be quite a neutral/ rational position for superior courts to take - essentially a precedent regarding jurisprudence itself, thus notable.

When such rulings are made in clear terms, it is not uncommon for them to be referred to by folks in other jurisdictions (other countries) in future cases.

  German Court Rejects Attempt To Enshrine Sharia Law

        "With this groundbreaking decision, the court sent an important signal in favor of the ideological neutrality of state institutions. Especially in today's society, in which people from many countries around the world live with different cultural biographies and also with different religions, the state order must place more value than ever on its ideological neutrality. This is only possible if the state parties to judicial proceedings are not allowed to show religious insignia."

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