Home > Public space > Germany > 2007-01-15 - Bavarian constitutional supreme Court, n. Vf. 11-VII-05

2007-01-15 - Bavarian constitutional supreme Court, n. Vf. 11-VII-05

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The ban on visible non-Christian religious symbols worn by teachers at school, which is manifested in Bavarian Law does not interfere with the Bavarian Constitution

Key facts of the case - A Muslim Community filed a popular action against Bavaria claiming that Art. 59 II 3 of the Bavarian Act on Education and teaching (BayEUG) violates the Bavarian Constitution (BV), which, inter alia, guarantees the freedom of faith.

Main reasoning of the court - The Court held that the attacked norm is in accordance with the constitution. The rule-of-law principle set out in Art. 3 I 1 BV is not infringed since the norm is no undue legislation for an isolated case. Instead, it bans all religious or ideological symbols worn by teachers that can be understood as incompatible with the constitutional Christian-occidental values in education. Further, the norm does not infringe the principle of clarity, which obliges the legislator to formulate law clear enough for the people to estimate the legal situation. In this case, the norm can be understood with the common means of interpretation. The Court held that when interpreting the norm, the term “Christian” is not to be understood as the Christian faith itself but as the values that are common in the occidental culture and which were shaped by Christianity.
The Court also deemed that Art. 59 II 3 BayEUG does not violate the freedom of faith guaranteed in Art. 107 I, II BV. The norm interferes with the teacher’s freedom of faith. However, this basic right has its limits where it collides with others’ basic rights and values with constitutional status. The Court held that the teacher’s freedom of faith collides with the students’ and their parents’ negative freedom of faith, the parents’ right to educate their children with or without certain religious influences (Art. 126 I BV), as well as the State’s educational objectives (Art. 131 et seq. BV). The Court had to find a balance between these basic rights and to consider, which position is to be measured as of higher value. However, the legislator has a prerogative to assess the circumstances and can therefore decide which result a consideration of the conflicting interests has. The legislator’s assumption, that the credible communication of constitutional values and educational goals is endangered by teachers wearing certain religious symbols, is not objectionable on constitutional grounds.