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The Right to Be Forgotten II crystallizes one lesson from Europe’s rights revolution: persons should be able to call on some kind of right to protect their important interests whenever those interests are threatened under the law. Which rights instrument should be deployed, and by what court, become secondary concerns. The decision doubtless involves some self-aggrandizement by the German Federal Constitutional Court (GFCC), which asserts for itself a new role in protecting European fundamental rights, but it is no criticism of the Right to Be Forgotten II to say that it advances the GFCC’s role in European governance, so long as the decision also makes sense in the context of the European and German law. I argue that it does, for a specific reason. The Right to Be Forgotten II represents a sensible approach to managing the complex pluralism of the legal environment in which Germany and other EU member states find themselves.
Constitutions traffic in magic and deceit, argues Günter Frankenberg, promising freedom and democracy even as they underwrite the exercise of coercive power on a massive scale. Scholars should approach constitutions with a healthy skepticism, but, Frankenberg contends, most mainstream scholars are too credulous, especially regarding the claims of liberal constitutionalism. Comparative Constitutional Studies serves as his corrective to the perceived blind spots and predilections of mainstream comparative constitutional scholarship, and it gives attention to little-known constitutions, forgotten histories, and alternatives to liberal constitutionalism. It’s a rich, challenging, and valuable book, one that takes the reader to some off-the-beaten-track places and offers some new perspectives on well-studied landmarks. It does not, however, represent such a radical break from mainstream scholarship as the author supposes, both because the book’s own analysis, in practice, is not deeply unconventional, and because mainstream scholarship is more diverse than Frankenberg gives it credit for.
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