chapter  10
16 Pages

The Secular Court? Trends in the United States Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights Compared

WithEffie Fokas

This chapter explores how the complexity and messiness of lived religion influences the jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the United States Supreme Court (S. Ct.) have both been arenas for contestation of some of the most divisive and emotive socio-religious issues facing European and American societies. The egalitarian dimension of religious freedom is one open question about which scholars disagree, and one more conspicuously relevant to European cases. The religion, national identity link has been on trial many times in both the US and European contexts. The Italian State sought and won a referral of the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. That hearing took place on 30 June 2010, and resulted in a 15-2 reversal of the original decision, in favour of the Italian state, delivered on 18 March 2011.