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2009-07-10 - Court of cassation, n. 28482

Public space · Italy · Crucifix · Freedom of conscience · Religious symbol

A judge may refuse to work in a courtroom displaying a crucifix

Key facts of the case - A judge refused to perform his functions in courtrooms displaying a crucifix considering it as a symbol of Christianity in contradiction to his freedom of conscience and religion and against the neutrality and impartiality supposed to be at the basis of the secularism of the State.

Main reasoning of the court - The Supreme Court considered the judge reluctant to fulfil his functions in courtrooms showing a crucifix not guilty of dereliction of duty. The judge previously anticipated his department and another magistrate stood in for him. As a consequence there was no dereliction of duty but only a consequence at the internal service level. Concerning the violation of freedom of conscience and religion as a consequence of the display of the crucifix, the Supreme Court did not pronounce on it.