Justified Interference with Religious Freedom: The European Court of Human Rights and the Need for Mediating Doctrine Under Article 9(2)


This Note undertakes a critical analysis of the European Court of Human Rights’ (“ECHR”) growing case law under Article 9(2). As a limitations clause, Article 9(2) sets out the necessary conditions for a state party’s legitimate interference with or restriction of religious freedom. This Note argues that the ECHR’s application of Article 9(2) is inconsistent, chiefly because the Court has failed to develop mediating doctrine to discipline the free-wheeling, case-by-case balancing authorized by the limitations clause. This Note concludes with the recommendation that the Court should develop mediating doctrine to regularize its application of the broad principles animating the limitations clause, with the expectation that this will help to alleviate some of the rule of law concerns to which the ECHR’s present application of Article 9(2) gives rise.