28 September 2021

Facebook suspends accounts of German Covid-19-deniers

On 16 September 2021, Facebook suspended more than 150 “Pages and Groups operated by individuals associated with the Querdenken movement in Germany” because of “coordinated social harm”. These accounts were, undoubtedly, spreading misinformation about the Covid-19-pandemic, denying the existence of the virus and encouraging other users to resist the government. However, this type of removal has no legal basis other than Facebook’s Community Standards. Hence, this constitutes a great example of how we (still) apply double standards in content moderation and that, from a legal perspective, we need to think beyond traditional categories and expand the horizontal effect doctrine, but not solely to the advantage of the users affected by the removal. Continue reading >>
19 August 2021

Swipe up for the German Federal Constitutional Court on Instagram

Shortly before noon on 18 August, on an ordinary Wednesday, the German Federal Constitutional Court quietly but firmly took the plunge into the unknown: it published a press release announcing its opening of an official account on Instagram on the occasion of its 70th anniversary. This decision has attracted significant public attention, not only because it promises “exciting insights into the work of Germany’s highest court” but also because the new visual turn of the GFCC is in line with a wider development in the use of social media by courts and judicial storytelling. Continue reading >>
04 August 2021

Eine Kommunikationsordnung für Soziale Netzwerke

Entscheide nach Deinen Regeln, aber entscheide rational, transparent und frei von Willkür. In diese Formel lassen sich die beiden Facebook-Urteile des Bundesgerichtshofs vom 29.7.2021 zum Umgang von Betreibern Sozialer Netzwerke mit nutzergenerierten Inhalten auf ihren Plattformen gießen. Eine prima facie-Auseinandersetzung mit den Urteilen auf Grundlage der Pressemitteilung zeigt, dass das Zivilrecht selbst unter Zuhilfenahme der mittelbaren Drittwirkung von Grundrechten keine abschließenden Antworten zu liefern vermag. Continue reading >>
27 Juli 2021

YouTube vs. das NetzDG

Nachdem es hierzu in den vergangenen Tagen schon Gerüchte gab, hat das Verwaltungsgericht Köln heute bestätigt, dass Google Ireland Limited, welche YouTube betreibt, in der Hauptsache negative Feststellungsklage gegen die Bundesrepublik Deutschland vor dem VG Köln erhoben und parallel Eilrechtsschutz beantragt hat. Google möchte klären,  dass der neue § 3a NetzDG (sog. BKA-Meldepflicht) sowie der neue § 4a Abs. 3 NetzDG (Auskunftspflicht des Anbieters im Aufsichtsverfahren) unwirksam sind, beziehungsweise hieraus keine Pflichten für YouTube folgen. Wenn YouTube hier Erfolg hat, könnte das wohl das ganze NetzDG zu Fall bringen. Continue reading >>
24 Juni 2021

Is UEFA on “the Other Side of the Rainbow”?

UEFA's stance on the rainbow flag has generated attention around the world. The disciplinary proceedings against Manuel Neuer by UEFA show: sport governing bodies still massively limit the freedom of political expressions by the athletes during big sporting events. Continue reading >>
01 März 2021

Preserving Prejudice in the Name of Profit

Few CJEU judgments in recent years have received more criticism than the ‘headscarf judgments’, Achbita and Bougnaoui. In particular the decision in Achbita that private employers can legitimately pursue a policy of neutrality and ban expressions of political, religious, or philosophical belief at work, proved contentious. Two other headscarf cases, IX v Wabe and MH Müller, are currently pending before the CJEU and provide it with an excellent opportunity to do so. However, the first signs are not promising: Last week, Advocate General Rantos delivered his Opinion in these cases, which may be even more unpalatable than the Achbita judgment itself. Continue reading >>
29 Dezember 2020

„Privilegien“ für einige oder Lockdown für alle?

Noch ehe die erste Impfung verabreicht war, entbrannte die Diskussion um eine Differenzierung zwischen geimpften und nicht geimpften Personen. Dürfen geimpften Personen Möglichkeiten eines „normaleren“ Lebens eingeräumt werden, die man nicht geimpften Personen (noch) vorenthält? Oder muss der Staat jegliche Differenzierung verbieten und den Lockdown damit für alle bis zur (möglicherweise gar nicht erreichbaren) Herdenimmunität, aufrechterhalten? Continue reading >>
07 Dezember 2020

Im Stich gelassen – Kinder im System Aufnahme

Die letzte Asylrechtsreform jährt sich. Sowohl diese als auch sämtliche Reformen in den letzten Jahren waren primär auf Verschärfung ausgerichtet. Die Folge: Das System Aufnahme bedingt strukturell menschen- und kinderrechtliche Gefährdungslagen. Verbesserungen in den Einrichtungen stoßen daher an unüberwindbare Grenzen, motiviert, unter anderem, von der politischen Idee, Geflüchtete direkt aus der Erstaufnahme zurückzuführen. Die Lage für Kinder kann sich deshalb nur verbessern, wenn das gesamte System durch einen holistischen, kinderrechtsbasierten Ansatz in die Pflicht genommen und die Dauer der Wohnpflicht in der Aufnahmeeinrichtung drastisch verkürzt wird. Continue reading >>
23 November 2020

Auf Antisemitismus (oder das, was manche dafür halten) kommt es bei der Meinungsfreiheit nicht an

Dürfen Kommunen die Überlassung ihrer Räume für Veranstaltungen verweigern, auf denen die Forderungen der Palästinensischen BDS-Bewegung („Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions“) diskutiert werden sollen, weil sie diese Bewegung für antisemitisch halten? Der Bayerische VGH hat diese seit Jahren umstrittene Frage am 17.11.2020 verneint. Es hat dabei festgestellt, dass es für die Grundrechtsprüfung unerheblich ist, ob die BDS-Bewegung als antisemitisch zu qualifizieren ist oder nicht. Continue reading >>
14 Oktober 2020

Anti-Hegemony and Its Discontents

Long before the fighting ceased, Jean Monnet was already planning to integrate a defeated Germany into “a Europe united on terms of equality.” The idea had been brewing in the French and Italian resistance during World War II, even since Germany had been defeated last time around, and before then, in other forms, too. The key to bringing the warring nations together in solidarity was, as the Schuman Declaration would explain, taming the age-old animosity between Germany and France in a supranational project “open to all countries willing to take part.” The aim, in the words of the Treaty of Rome would be an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.” Continue reading >>

The End of the German Legal Culture?

In this post, I argue that: (I) the influence of German jurisprudence on the legal systems in Central and Eastern Europe results from transfers of legal knowledge and “cooperative adaptation” of elites in the new democracies; (II) the German legal hegemony is in fact a hegemony of reason and a culture of justification; (III) the decision of Bundesverfassungsgericht in PSPP is an attempt to maintain the culture of justification in view of its inevitable end. Continue reading >>
13 Oktober 2020

How Not to Become Hegemonial

I have to start with a confession: if it was not for the Bundesverfassungsgericht and German legal scholarship, I would have not become the lawyer I am today. Writing a PhD in the Max-Planck-Institute in Heidelberg, attending classes by giants of German public law taught me to appreciate the famous German “Rechtsdogmatik”, a term that can only be poorly translated by “legal doctrine”. The conceptual sophistication and clarity of thoughts, the persuasive power of reasoning, the attention for details and the elegance with which the lack of answers to certain questions is concealed created for me an aura of infallibility and self-evident truth. I also remember my condescending attitude when I met foreign guests in the Max-Planck Institute who were not familiar enough with this constitutional language, or even dared to challenge some of its conclusions. Being inside this world felt reassuring, safe and also elevating. After wandering through the legal education of post-communist Hungary I finally saw the light. Continue reading >>

The Ugly German

The novel’s two ugly Americans provide useful models for two facets of hegemony as Gramsci theorized it. Hegemony, he insisted, is more than a state of cultural domination. It is better understood as a process of socio-historical change that takes place before power is institutionalized. The two drivers of the hegemonic process Gramsci theorized are consensus and coercion. Continue reading >>
12 Oktober 2020

Constitutional Borrowings, Not Hegemony

The question about the legal hegemony of Germany was raised by comments from lawyers, but also politicians, in connection with the - undoubtedly - controversial decision of the German Constitutional Tribunal in the PSPP case. Armin von Bogdandy’s introduction refers primarily to the problem of the Europeanization of Germany vs. the Germanization of Europe in the context of European integration and Sabino Cassese’s description of “some specific decisions of these more recent EU-specific decisions of the Second Senate of the German Federal Constitutional Court as an attempt to put a German dog leash on European institutions". But it also refers to the past of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the "imposition" of "an enlightened, soft neo-liberalism" on the countries of this region (Bogdan Iancu). In the case of Poland, because Kaczyński’s government seems to be a persecutor against the proceedings which the German jurisprudence provides, "the secret crypt in which the seeds of its spirit will be protected...". (Carl Schmitt). Continue reading >>
11 Oktober 2020

Influence yes, Hegemony no

Before starting my reflections on the arguments presented in Professor von Bogdandy’s text, a number of caveats need to be made. First of all, as I will explain below, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 and Spanish democratic constitutional law have been deeply influenced by German constitutional law. This is a fact that is both well-known and unquestioned. It may also explain why, at present, there is no debate about the matter. For this reason, before I began to write this article, I felt it necessary to discuss with some legal colleagues how they saw the questions put forward, as I did not consider myself to be entitled to reply on behalf of the Spanish academia as a whole. Secondly, the article that we have been asked to reflect on mixes different questions. Some of them may be significant from a German standpoint, but, in contrast, are not salient topics from a Spanish one. Finally, and in relation to the point that has just been mentioned, I will attempt to provide a response in the case of those aspects that are susceptible of being considered from outside, in this case from Spain. Continue reading >>
10 Oktober 2020

Mirror Mirror on the Wall – Who is the Most Beautiful of All?

I have been politically aware for around, sigh, five decades. And with unerring regularity once every ten years or so, we have been treated to a kind of decennial Oktoberfest of German public hand-wringing. Very public – group therapy writ large. Sometimes it comes with the label of ‘Legitimacy Crisis’. Oftentimes it is a variation on the theme of ‘Are We Back to Weimer Times – and You Know What Followed That!’ It has all the hall marks of a ritual. Continue reading >>
09 Oktober 2020

The European “Market” for Constitutional Ideas

It was already clear to Seneca, almost 2000 years ago, that “[i]f a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favourable”. Now, almost 2000 years later, as mentioned by Armin von Bogdandy in his inspiring introduction to this symposium, we are faced with a crucial question of existential significance: Are we moving towards a Europeanised Germany or a Germanised Europe? In order to answer to the question, we have to draw a distinction between intention and practical effect. Continue reading >>

The Fading International Influence of German Constitutional Thinking

German constitutional thinking has been central in EU law, in ECHR law, and even in some domestic constitutional systems outside of Germany. It is, however, gradually and unstoppably losing influence in Europe. This is largely due to the fact that Karlsruhe has lost its status as the most influential court in constitutional issues in Europe, with this title now belonging to the Strasbourg Court and likely to do so for the foreseeable future. This trend (i.e. the fading international influence of German constitutional thinking) cannot be reversed by German constitutional lawyers, as it is the result of major institutional and structural (“tectonic”) changes that have taken place over the last 20-25 years. German lawyers can, however, somewhat mitigate this trend by constructively participating in the formation of a common European Constitutional Language (in English). Continue reading >>
08 Oktober 2020

No Member State is More Equal than Others

In my view, three direct implications flow from the principle of ‘equality of the Member States before the Treaties’. First, the uniform interpretation and application of EU law are key for guaranteeing that equality. Second, the uniform interpretation of EU law needs to be ensured by one court and one court only, i.e. the Court of Justice. Third and last, the principle of primacy underpins the uniform interpretation and application of EU law. That law – as interpreted by the Court of Justice – is ‘the supreme law of the land’ as primacy (Anwendungsvorrang) guarantees that normative conflicts between EU law and national law are resolved in the same fashion. Primacy thus guarantees that both the Member States and their peoples are equal before the law. Continue reading >>

‘Sensible and Serious’ – Yet Hardly Supreme

Our focus is a postwar development, namely the European Convention on Human Rights and its interpretation in the case-law of the Court. That case-law evinces the adoption of certain ‘imports’ from the doctrine developed and applied by German domestic courts that, as Judge Wildhaber implied, the concept of German legal thinking must encompass if it has any meaning at all. Without them, the ‘legal world’ inhabited by specialists in the Convention would be entirely different. They accordingly demonstrate the salience of such thinking to the Convention system. But for reasons that we will briefly explore, they do not demonstrate that this thinking is uniquely dominant in the deliberation rooms of the Human Rights Building. Continue reading >>
07 Oktober 2020

On the Road to German Hegemony in EU Law?

The influence of the German legal tradition in the European legal community is unquestionable. No other European country has displayed, like Germany has, such an articulate and institutionalized effort of promotion of its own legal system and thinking. The project paid off. EU Law displays an obvious German imprint that is now enforced in twenty-seven Member States. Lawyers throughout the European continent learn German to read the high-quality legal literature produced in German universities and research centers, courts and public institutions. The ultimate sign of intellectual distinction of a European lawyer is to “read the Germans”. No other feature can surpass in pedigree a lawyer’s fluency and ability to dominate German concepts in their very own words. Continue reading >>

The Two Faces German Legal Hegemony?

I write this blog post just as I complete my fourth year as a professor of international law in Berlin. I am, as von Bogdandy calls, a Bildungsausländerin. My university education was first in Turkey and then in the United Kingdom. My academic career has been, for the most part, in the UK and then in Turkey. When I moved to Berlin from Istanbul four years ago to take up the professorship of international law at the Hertie School, I imagined Berlin to be somewhere between Istanbul and London. I hoped that it would be the best of both worlds, I would find a home in a city with a handsome Turkish speaking community at a university that conducts education and research in English. I also hoped that speaking Berlin’s two oft-spoken languages, Turkish and English, I would survive with my basic German, and learn more of it along the way and become a late Berliner. Continue reading >>
06 Oktober 2020

Vicarious Hegemony

The specter of national hegemony has haunted the field of European law ever since in its emergence in the 1950s in the wake of creation of the European Communities. As the circulation and competition between national and professional models of law have always been central to its dynamics, this transnational field has developed as a reflexive field questioning its own “European-ness” -that is its capacity to produce authentically “European” norms that are not just a mask for new forms of domination, influence or hegemony. Continue reading >>
23 Juli 2020

Black Lives and German Exceptionalism

Racism is not limited to anti-blackness nor restricted to the context of policing; however, I use policing and blackness as touchstones for this commentary precisely because this constellation of race and law is consistently thought to present a problem exceptional to the United States. It is not. This article examines the case of police brutality. The nature of policing, not only in the United States but in many places in the world, and certainly in Europe, is such that holding police to account for the deaths of innocent people is not only statistically improbable, but it is designed to be legally impractical. Continue reading >>
22 Juli 2020

Mehr als ‚Identitätspolitik‘

Wie bei allen Protestbewegungen stellt sich auch für Black Lives Matter und #metoo die Frage, welche Bedeutung sie für etablierte politische Akteure und Parteien haben. Ein Blick aus politikwissenschaftlicher Perspektive zeigt, dass es vor allem für sozialdemokratische und andere progressive Parteien zentral ist, Protestbewegungen wie Black Lives Matter zu integrieren, wenn sie nicht in der Bedeutungslosigkeit verschwinden wollen. Continue reading >>
18 Juli 2020

One day (Vandaag) …

Yes I do ... have a migration background. Yet, due to mere genetic randomness, my “Germanness” has hardly ever been challenged – at least until the moment when it comes to the correct spelling of my family name: “KHan” not “KaHn” – Dschinghis, not Oliver – please! Occasionally, I still get carried away with coquetting in my lectures: “I would be inclined to say – I am a case of successful integration.” Some students may then be slightly embarrassed, in particular after a controversial discussion about immigration policy. But that’s it basically, my personal home story about “racism”! But to be very clear and unambiguous: my father’s story is a much longer and a much more painful one! But that’s another story. Continue reading >>

Parity laws in Germany – Caving in to Gender Backlash or Consolidating Women’s Citizenship Status?

In this contribution we examine the German developments in light of broader European debates. Though we believe that the German Basic Law can support stronger arguments for parity laws in representative political institutions, we do not need to make such stronger arguments here to defend the constitutionality of parity laws. For what is at stake is ultimately a question of legislative discretion: whether German legislatures are allowed to pass parity laws as a matter of state and federal constitutional law. Such legislative discretion is particularly appropriate where the constitutional text itself provides no clear standards, academic commentators disagree and where – as in this case – there exists a significant European trend towards adopting gender quotas with regional and international institutions repeatedly encouraging the adoption of such laws. Continue reading >>
16 Juli 2020
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Wird der Bremer Polizei nun auf die Finger geschaut?

Die Ausweitung polizeilicher Befugnisse im neuen Bremer Polizeigesetz ist vergleichsweise moderat ausgefallen. Zahlreiche in jüngerer Zeit bundesweit publik gewordene Skandale lassen jedoch vermuten, dass der Polizeiapparat Rassismus, Sexismus, Gewaltexzesse und das Vorgehen gegen ohnehin marginalisierte Gruppen wenn nicht gar strukturell begünstigt, so doch jedenfalls deren effektive Aufklärung erschwert. Der Bremer Entwurf enthält allerdings verschiedene Instrumentarien zur Kontrolle und rechtsstaatlichen Einhegung dieser Probleme. Continue reading >>
26 Mai 2020

COVID-19: Walking the Tightrope of Vaccination Obligations

Normally, outside states of public health emergency, many countries employ some type of vaccination coercion scheme to encourage uptake. The range of possible measures, including monetary incentives, social exclusion, fines, and criminal penalties, fall on a spectrum from voluntary to strictly mandatory. Given the power and efficacy of vaccinations, many nations have adopted varying approaches to compelling vaccination against emergent public health threats. Specifically, this article examines the legal and historical orientation of mandatory vaccination in the US and Germany. Continue reading >>
23 Mai 2020

Wann kommt der Abschiebungsstopp?

In der COVID-19-Pandemie erweist sich die Situation Geflüchteter hierzulande wie anderswo als besonders prekär. Verschärft wird dies nicht zuletzt dadurch, dass der Zugang zu Rechtsberatung aktuell erheblich erschwert ist. Gleichwohl werden vollziehbar Ausreisepflichtige nach wie vor abgeschoben und zwar auch in Herkunftsstaaten, die ebenfalls von der Pandemie betroffen sind. Ist es an der Zeit für ein nationales Abschiebungsverbot oder wenigstens einen Abschiebungsstopp? Continue reading >>
19 Mai 2020

Why Egenberger Could Be Next

Soon, the Federal Constitutional Court will decide on the Egenberger case that raises important questions at the intersection of anti-discrimination law and religious policy. The decision is an opportunity to address critical questions to the European Court of Justice – a court that lacks dogmatic subtlety and sensitivity with regard to religion and cultural policy as an analysis of its case law shows. Continue reading >>
06 Mai 2020

Fight, flight or fudge?

Karlsruhe’s latest judgement on the PSPP moves the German state closer to a full-fledged fight with either the EU or its own Constitutional Court by threatening to prohibit Germany’s participation in a programme that has existential significance for the euro. To resolve this dilemma, perhaps nothing short of a revolutionary moment would be required. Continue reading >>
21 Februar 2020

Das Leben der Anderen

Über rechten Terror, Europa, Türkei, Italien und den fetten Bußprediger von Budapest. Continue reading >>
05 Dezember 2019

Access to Menstrual Products is a Constitutional Right. Period.

On 7 November, the German Parliament (Bundestag) passed a legislation which will reduce the sales tax on menstrual products from 19 percent, for those classified as “luxury goods”, to 7 percent. While most international human rights instruments as well as constitutions are silent on the issue of access to menstrual products, the “tampon tax” reveals a deep gender bias in tax systems around the world. This bias is not only detrimental to the socio-economic rights of women but it is also unconstitutional as sex-based discrimination. Continue reading >>
09 Dezember 2018

The Census in the USA and Germany: It’s all about sampling

In Germany disputes over the 2011 census have finally come to an end in the “census judgment” by the Bundesverfassungsgericht. In the United States of America, in turn, disputes over the 2020 Census questionnaire are currently before the federal courts that raise related issues of the accuracy of the count. In contrast to the German Grundgesetz, the U.S. constitution requires a census every ten years to determine representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. Accurate population data are the underlying goal of the Constitution’s decennial census requirement. We argue that in the twenty-first century accuracy requires modern statistical techniques, including sampling and adequate pre-testing of questions. Continue reading >>
18 Juli 2018

Germany’s Moral Responsibility to Support a Treaty  on Business and Human Rights

In a massive conglomeration called the Treaty Alliance, leading human rights NGOs around the world together with many luminary academics are calling for a treaty between states on business and human rights that would seek to prevent human rights violations by businesses from occurring and ensure they do not go unpunished, or at least uncompensated. Such a treaty is necessary given the need to address a number of problems in international law that have prevented victims of human rights violations from being able to gain remedies against errant corporations. Continue reading >>
18 Januar 2016

Asyl und Migration – Recht und Wirklichkeit

Vernünftige und angemessene Reaktionen in Gesetzgebung und Rechtsanwendung sind, wie so häufig, auch in der Asyl- und Migrationspolitik zugleich die kompliziertesten, unbequemsten und langwierigsten, aber letztlich doch die einzig möglichen Wege, auch wenn sie die Ziele nicht immer zu vollster Zufriedenheit erreichen werden. Leider ist viel Zeit durch gut gemeinte Appelle, auch solche an die gesamteuropäische Solidarität, durch halbherzige bis völlig ungeeignete Reaktionen und teilweise durch abstruse, jenseits des rechtlich Möglichen und des tatsächlich Vollziehbaren liegende Reaktionsvorschläge vergeudet worden. Je länger dieser Zustand andauert, desto schmerzlicher für alle wird das schlussendlich unausweichliche Umsteuern. Continue reading >>
01 August 2014

Die Burka als Freiheitssymbol? Nein, danke

In der Debatte über die Entscheidung des EGMR zum Burka-Verbot […] Continue reading >>
26 Juli 2014

Die Rettung des Schweizer Käses durch die Härteklausel

In der FAZ vom Donnerstag findet sich ein erwiderungsbedürftiger Kommentar […] Continue reading >>
25 Juni 2014

Should academic lawyers blog?

As an academic lawyer who writes his own blog, as well as contributing occasionally to others, my answer to the question “Should academic lawyers blog?” is, perhaps unsurprisingly, “Yes”. However, I was recently prompted—by agreeing to talk about blogging at a conference on the teaching of public law held at City Law School earlier this week—to reflect more carefully on whether, and if so why, writing and contributing to blogs is something that academic lawyers should do. Continue reading >>
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