Thu, Jul. 29, 2004

Free Speech for Offensive Views

CK - Washington.   The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe published an order and a press release today, covering a decision of June 23, 2004 in docket number BVerfG, 1 BvQ 19/04. The court held in its order that in free speech cases, the government may not deny a permit for a demonstration which it fears might lead to crime.

In the instant case, such a permit was refused a group with assumed ties to neo-nazis planning to protest public expenditures for a temple. The government believed in a threat of offensive speech that might violate prohibitions on anti-semitic and racist statements. The court acted in an injunction procedure; thus, the order is not as revealing as a final decision based on a complete record.

The core holding is the court's view that Article 5 of the constitution guarantees free speech and assembly rights to demonstrators who express clear minority views which may offend the vast majority, because the court believes in the purpose of a constitution to protect minorities in a democratic and pluralistic society.



German Domain Practice Manual

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