08 April 2024

Wir fahren zusammen, aber streiken müssen wir allein

Am 1. März 2024 streikten die Beschäftigten des öffentlichen Personennahverkehrs für bessere Arbeitsbedingungen, während gleichzeitig Aktivist*innen von Fridays for Future für den Ausbau des öffentlichen Nahverkehrs demonstrierten. Daraufhin kam die Diskussion auf, ob ein solcher Streik nicht ein rechtswidriger politischer Streik sein könnte. Wann und unter welchen Umständen diese Differenzierung und das Verbot des politischen Streiks entstanden sind und ob die rechtsdogmatische Herleitung überzeugt, ist nicht nur für das Verständnis der Genese des deutschen Streikrechts interessant.

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26 February 2024

Rethinking the Law and Politics of Migration

2023 was, to put it mildly, a terrible year for (im)migrants and their human rights. With the declared end of the Covid pandemic came an end to the exceptional border policies it had led to which had further restricted already weakened migrants’ rights. Yet governments have largely chosen to replace them with legal frameworks that incorporated many of the same rights negating policies and ideas- except for this time they put them on a permanent legal basis. Liberated from their initial emergency rationales, asylum bans have now joined outsourcing and overpopulated mass detention camps as standard methods of migration governance. What is the role of legal scholarship and discourse at a time where governments seem increasingly comfortable to eschew many long-standing legal rules and norms, often with majority support?

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25 January 2024

Measuring with Double Legal Standards

Less than two hours after Israel had closed its pleadings, the German Government released a press statement, announcing its intent to intervene as a third party under Article 63 of the Statute of the ICJ (ICJ Statute). Therefore, it can be assumed that Germany did not take sufficient time to conduct a comprehensive assessment prior to its decision. At all costs, it sought to be perceived as being on Israel’s side. Germany’s decision may not appear startling given that it had previously intervened in both genocide proceedings against Russia (Ukraine v Russia case) and Myanmar (Rohingya case). However, in the latter case, Germany joined Gambia in upholding a purposive construction of Article II Genocide Convention, which would seem to present a serious obstacle to support Israel. Thus, this contribution investigates whether Germany, in its intervention in the "Genocide in the Gaza Strip case", would be able to abandon its previous submissions in the Rohingya case and instead adopt a more restrictive construction of the Article II Genocide Convention.

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17 January 2024
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Germany Blocks Europe-Wide Protection of Women Against Violence

Gender-based violence has dramatically increased in the European Union (EU) in recent years. In particular women are widely affected by rape. On 8 March 2022, the Commission presented a Draft Directive for comprehensive, effective and enforceable protection against gender-based violence in all EU Member States. The main point of contention in the negotiations, which could ultimately prevent the adoption of the Draft Directive, is the introduction of the common definition of the criminal offence of rape. The Directive aims to harmonize across Europe the definition of rape as a violation of the consent-based sexual act. Yet, twelve Member States, with Germany and France at the forefront, are not convinced that the EU has a sufficient legal base to regulate that issue. This article highlights the arguments for a common regulation of the criminal offence of rape in the EU under Art. 83 (1) TFEU against the doubts raised by the German Federal Ministry of Justice.

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12 January 2024

Der Bund als Retter in der Flut?

Bereits jetzt ist absehbar, dass die Hochwasserschäden in mehreren Bundesländern, insbesondere in Niedersachsen, hohe Wiederaufbaukosten nach sich ziehen werden. Auf die Frage, ob die aktuelle Situation ein abermaliges Aussetzen der Schuldenbremse rechtfertige (im Hinblick auf die Ahrtal-Flutkatastrophe 2021 unlängst auch von Robert Pracht diskutiert), stellte Regierungssprecher Steffen Hebestreit klar, dass sich der Bund – zu gegebener Zeit – „vor seiner Verantwortung nicht drücken“ werde, „wenn ein Schadensereignis von nationalem Ausmaß mit hohen Schadenssummen zu bewältigen wäre.“ Der vorausgehenden Frage, ob überhaupt eine Kompetenz des Bundes zur Finanzierung flutbedingter Wiederaufbauhilfe besteht, wurde in der aktuellen Debatte bislang nicht nachgegangen. Nach hier vertretener Ansicht muss dies auf Grundlage der bundesstaatlichen Kompetenzverteilung in den meisten Fällen verneint werden.

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20 December 2023

Can Germany Remain Silent?

Is Germany legally obligated to condemn violations of international humanitarian law? This argument was recently put forward in an article on Verfassungsblog. Elsewhere it was claimed that Germany, along with other States failing to utilize their full repertoire of diplomatic options (including “[calling] for a permanent ceasefire”), is in breach of its own IHL-responsibilities. Admittedly, international law does have a say when organs of States speak. Nevertheless, the intricacies of this matter go beyond first impression. I submit that such a duty is not as easy to derive in the present case as is suggested by opposing views.

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19 December 2023

The Economic Distortions of the Federal Constitutional Court’s Debt Brake Decision

Germany is not facing a debt crisis, but rather a serious budget crisis triggered by the ‘debt brake’ ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court (FCC). This crisis is deeper than the 60 billion in unused "Corona debts" being shifted to a climate fund, as reported in the media. More fundamentally, the court has mandated that the federal budget strictly adhere to the "principle of annuality" (Jährlichkeit). This is the most significant impact of the court's ruling, and from an economic perspective, it is quite perplexing.

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18 December 2023

(State) Immunity for Palestine?

On December 11, 2023, the Berlin Public Prosecutor's Office decided to discontinue investigations against Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority. The declared reason for doing so lies in his immunity pursuant to Section 20 para. 1 of the German Courts Constitution Act (GVG). The decision is instructive with regard to Germany's understanding of sovereign immunity and Palestine's role in international relations.

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28 November 2023

‘Steadfast and Unreserved’

On 24 November 2023, the Barcelona City Council passed a resolution, suspending diplomatic ties with Israel, until a permanent ceasefire is established. While this may not reflect the stance of the Spanish government, it has nevertheless condemned ‘the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians’. As more EU States (such as Belgium, France, and Ireland) have raised their concerns regarding Israel’s continuous military operations in Gaza, Germany has remained steadfast in its ‘unwavering’ and ‘unreserved’ support for Israel. To the extent that Israel has failed to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL), Germany’s position might amount to a breach of its obligation under common Article 1 (CA1) of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (GC) to ‘ensure respect’ for IHL. While this obligation is incumbent on all States parties to the GC, this post focuses on Germany due to its particularly affirmative position with respect to Israel’s conduct.

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22 November 2023

Deregulating Legal Gender in the Shadow of Social Ascription

On 23 August 2023, the German government published a bill on Gender Self-Determination (hereinafter also referred to as SBGG-E). The bill is currently under debate before the German parliament (Bundestag) and is subject to heated socio-political debate. Its primary objective consists of deregulating the conditions for altering and deleting the gender entry provided by the German Civil Status Act. Aside from a strong commitment to deregulating legal gender (Section 1 SBGG-E), the bill sets boundaries and conditions for gender recognition. While some appear self-explanatory, others are infused by what I will hereinafter refer to as the ‘logic of social ascription’.

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16 November 2023

Die Repolitisierung des Politischen

Das Verfahren um den zweiten Nachtragshaushalt 2021 gab dem Bundesverfassungsgericht die Gelegenheit, grundlegende Fragen des Finanzverfassungsrechts rund um die Schuldenbremse zu klären. Die Entscheidung, das Gesetz zu kassieren, war die juristisch einzig richtige ‒ und beraubt die deutsche Politik einer schützenden Selbsttäuschung.

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21 September 2023
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The Legal Art of Judging Art

In another round of the case "Metall auf Metall", the German Federal Court of Justice is asking the Court of Justice of the European Union how to define the concept of pastiche. The CJEU response will not only be crucial for the rules of artistic imitation, but also set the legal frame for the digital reference culture of millions, as expressed in Memes and GIFs every day. This Article takes the referral to the CJEU as an opportunity to recapitulate the proceedings with a sideways glance at the Supreme Court’s  Warhol case. Its discussion of transformative use addresses the questions the CJEU will have to answer when defining “pastiche”. How should we deal with the art of imitation?

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11 August 2023

Über die sogenannte Clankriminalität

Bereits seit Jahren ist das Phänomen der „Clankriminalität“ in der rechts- und kriminalpolitischen Diskussion in Deutschland omnipräsent und wird dabei sowohl von Medien als auch von weiten Teilen des Parteienspektrums als Inbegriff bekämpfungswürdiger Kriminalität und besondere Bedrohung für die Sicherheitslage in der Republik dargestellt. In den letzten Tagen geriet der Begriff im Zusammenhang mit einem „Diskussionsentwurf für ein Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Rückführung“ aus der Feder des Bundesministeriums des Inneren und für Heimatschutz erneut in die Schlagzeilen. Die Selbstverständlichkeit, mit der die meisten Beiträge zu dieser – auch noch aus anderen Gründen verunglückten – Debatte (mal wieder) auf den Begriff der „Clankriminalität“ zurückgreifen, gibt mir Anlass zum Widerspruch.

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03 August 2023

“Blood On Your Hands”

Metaphors are not just rhetorical devices. They are also a significant part of legal reality. A look across the Atlantic shows that the effects they can have even entail risks for the constitutional democracy. This blog posts looks at the case of Zooey Zephyr, member of the House of Representatives in Tennessee, who was stripped of her speaking rights for calling out Republicans for having 'blood on their hands'. At present, however, legal interpretation does not allow an accurate grasp of such metaphors. Therefore, a rethinking is necessary.

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18 July 2023
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Changing Tides in European Election Law

On 15 June, the Bundestag approved a minimum percentage threshold for elections to the European Parliament (EP). Shortly before the summer break, the Bundesrat (Federal Council) also agreed to the clause. German lawmakers already failed twice in this endeavour before the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, short BVerfG). This time, the German legislator can refer to a binding EU legal act backing its reform efforts. This means the electoral threshold must now be treated (also by the constitutional court) as determined by EU law – with all consequences. However, even a 2% hurdle is not 100% safe from the BVerfG.

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08 July 2023

Intertemporal Freedom in the Historic Climate Protection Ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court

The climate protection ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe of 2021 is a historic decision. It is on a par with the Court's major landmark decisions such as Lüth, Elfes, or Brokdorf. It updates the fundamental value of equal freedom: Freedom includes future freedom and, as a right to intertemporal freedom, can demand a proportional distribution of freedom opportunities over time. 

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30 June 2023
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Politicians don’t dance? AI doesn’t either!

“Why don’t politicians ever dance? – Because they have too many steps to backtrack on!” Chat-GPT answered this when we asked the program to tell a political joke. While this example is somewhat worrying since the underlying assumption might perpetuate existing stereotypes about politics and politicians, the joke also highlights that AI has become witty and incredibly good at behaving in a way we perceive as human. Thus, we take the recent advancements of generative AI as a motivation to analyze its potential effects on political campaigns and democratic elections.

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19 May 2023

Medienfreiheit als europäische Tradition

Über den Entwurf des Europäischen Medienfreiheitsgesetzes (EMFA) und seine Auswirkungen auf die Unabhängigkeit der Nationalstaaten im Bereich der Medien wird derzeit lebhaft diskutiert. Ein Vorwurf war besonders häufig zu hören: Der Entwurf des EMFA sei der neuste Versuch Brüssels, die Souveränität östlicher Mitgliedstaaten mit Rechtsstaatlichkeit-Defizitzu unterminieren. Dieser Beitrag stellt sich diesem Vorwurf entgegen. Oft wird nämlich vergessen, dass die Regulierung europäischer Medien zwecks Sicherung des Medienpluralismus weder eine neue Forderung ist, noch historisch einen engen Bezug zu den östlichen Mitgliedstaaten aufweist. Im Gegenteil, das Streben nach einer Harmonisierung des Medienpluralismus und der Medienfreiheit ist ein seit Jahrzehnten immer wiederkehrendes Vorhaben in der EU. Die EMFA als ‚neuesten‘ Versuch Brüsseler Einflussnahme auf Osteuropa darzustellen ist daher schlicht ahistorisch.

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20 February 2023
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Löschen für die Vielfalt

Das Bundesverwaltungsgericht gelangt mit einiger Anstrengung zu einer generellen Pflicht öffentlich-rechtlicher Rundfunkanstalten, Inhalte auf ihren Social Media-Präsenzen zu moderieren und Nutzendenkommentare ohne hinreichenden Sendungsbezug zu löschen. Die Chance, ein zukunftweisendes Judikat zum Auftrag des ÖRR in der plattformisierten Öffentlichkeit zu erlassen, lässt der 7. Senat ungenutzt, dabei hatte das erstinstanzlich befasste VG Leipzig einen Weg dorthin aufgezeigt.

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