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Italian Court of Cassation, Criminal Section IV, No. 4273/2000, 1 March 2000

Type Judgment
Case number 4273/2000


The manifestation of the right to freedom of conscience constitutes a justified reason for refusing the office of president, scrutineer or secretary, if its exercise causes a conflict between the agent's convictions and the fulfillment of the assignment, due to the presence, in the furniture of the premises used as polling stations, of the crucifix or other religious symbols.

Normative references

Artt. 2, 3, 7, 8, 19, 20, 21  of the Italian Constitution
Art. 108 of d.p.r. no. 361/1957


1. The crucifix expresses an essentially religious meaning. A realistic interpretation, which places the “justified reason” - discriminating the crime around which the case was revolving – in the context of action and communication determined by the Constitutional Charter, performs an adaptive function to the elimination of the pre-eminent and exclusive relevance previously assigned to symbols of the Catholic religion, as instrumentally assumed as the religion of the State.


The ruling is in express contrast with the orientation expressed by the Council of State in its opinion no. 63/1988 and inaugurates the jurisprudential trend which recognizes the crucifix as an essentially religious symbol.