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The Role of the Courts in the Social Construction of Religious Freedom in Central and Eastern Europe

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For more content, see Review of Socialist Law.

This article takes a social-constructionist view of the role played by judicial systems in selected Central and East European nations, formerly dominated by the Soviet Union, in defining the meaning of religious freedom. The focus is on the role of national courts, including constitutional courts, and especially the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in this process, with particular attention being paid to the interaction of these separate court systems in defining religious freedom in the various nations. The function of possible ‘pilot judgments’ of the ECtHR in this process is examined. An overall assessment of the role of judicial systems offers a mixed, but somewhat optimistic, view of the role being played by the court systems in the region which seems to support the idea that the ‘judicialization of politics’—addressed by scholars in other branches of law—is also occurring in the area of religious freedom.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies, University of Nevada, Reno; 2: Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, Doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno


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