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Italian Court of Cassation, Joined Sections, No. 5924/11, 14 March 2011

Type Judgment
Case number 5924/2011


The presence of the crucifix in the courtrooms does not cause an infringement of the subjective right to freedom of religion of a magistrate who is not required to exercise jurisdiction under his symbolic protection, having been offered to hold hearingS, alternatively, in courtrooms without of religious symbols.

Normative references

Artt. 2, 3, 7, 8, 19, 20, 21 of the Italian Constitution
Art. 18 of Royal Decree no. 511/1946


1. The secular (“laica”) nature of the state represents a collective interest, and as such it belongs to the population as a whole. While the infringement of one's own inviolable subjective right can be asserted in the context of the employment relationship also in self-defense and, therefore, as a justification for the refusal to work, when such infringement of the subjective right is excluded, it cannot be invoked, as a justifying cause, the injury to a collective interest. In the present case, since the dispute refers only to the inefficiencies that occurred due to the refusal to hold hearings in courtrooms without the crucifix, and therefore in situations that could not involve the infringement of the applicant's right to religious freedom, it cannot be invoked, as a cause justifying this refusal, the alleged protection of the secularity of the State or the rights of religious freedom of the other subjects who were in the other courtrooms of the nation, in which the crucifix was exposed.