Judicial politics and the governance of religious diversity

Judicial politics and the governance of religious diversity

Matthias Koenig


The project focuses on courts as arenas for the struggle of religious recognition. The overall aim is to understand the role of the judicial arena in accommodating religious minorities in the European and North American context.
This  project relates to ongoing debates about judicial politics and their implications for regulations of religion which highlight that court conflicts can affect the situation of religious minorities not only by granting rights to exemption or parity, but also by constituting the very meaning of “religion”. The project attempts to assess to what extent court conflicts have been a motor of institutional change in the relations between states, religious majorities and religious minorities. A particular focus is on religious group interest litigation which, unlike in the US, has hardly been studied in the European context. In its initial phase, a database on litigation at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will be built up which will help assess the amount and success rate of legal mobilization across religious groups, including both new proselytizing religions and migration-related ethno-religious minorities. In a further step, qualitative work will be conducted to better understand the conditions of legal mobilization among selected religious groups with a particular view to their differential access to an increasingly transnationalized legal field. The project line is developed in close collaboration with various international scholars, including Claire de Galembert at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure, Cachan, and Effie Fokas at Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Athens.