Constitutional Requirements for the Treatment of Civil Disobedience

While civil disobedience has been widely discussed in political theory, it remains mostly neglected in German legal scholarship. Bridging this gap, this disserta­tion examines under what conditions, and in what ways, civil disobe­di­ence may be constitutionally protected under German law.

Based on the primary research questions of whether, and how far, civil disobe­di­ence undermines majority rule and the rule of law, and whether both might actually benefit from it, the dissertation is able to demonstrate that civil disobedience actually protects fundamental constitutional values and serves the rule of law. By convincing the public instead of forcing its hand, civil disobedience does not undermine majority rule or upset the system, but rather enhances democratic legitimacy.

The doctoral project contributes to constitutional law scholarship in at least three significant ways:

  1. It connects the conceptions of majority rule and rule of law whilst making a case for civil disobedience, concepts usually thought of only as conflicting principles.
  2. By examining their interaction with fundamental rights doctrine, the project illuminates the ambiguous relationship between subjective rights and objective constitutional provisions on state structure.
  3. It clarifies how doctrinal analysis and moral/political arguments are related, a question often answered too indistinguishably.
Research outcome: doctoral dissertation (University of Freiburg); peer-reviewed journal articles (2017–2020)
Research focus: 1. Fundamentals: Theoretical Foundations and Doctrinal Structures
Project language: German

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