Friday, February 28, 2020

German Top Court Upholds Hijab Ban For Legal Interns Involved In Official Proceedings

In a decision handed down last month, but not published until yesterday, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court in a 7-1 decision rejected a challenge by a legal intern to the requirement that she remove her hijab when involved in court hearings.  The full decision in German is here. In a press release, the court summarized the decision:
In an order published today, the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court rejected as unfounded the constitutional complaint of a female legal trainee (Rechtsreferendarin) in the Land Hesse; the complaint was directed against the ban on wearing a headscarf when performing certain official tasks. Under constitutional law, the legislature’s decision to establish a duty of neutral conduct with respect to ideological and religious matters for legal trainees must be respected. While this duty amounts to an interference with the complainant’s freedom of faith and other fundamental rights, it is justified. Such an interference can be justified by the constitutional principles of the state’s religious and ideological neutrality and of the proper functioning of the justice system as well as by the negative freedom of religion of others. In the case at hand, none of the conflicting legal interests outweighs the others to such an extent that it would be required under constitutional law to prevent the complainant from wearing religious symbols in the courtroom, or to allow her to do so.