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Labour-Market Outsiders, Italian Justices and the Right to Social Assistance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2017


Constitutional right to social assistance in Italy – Lack of a universally-accessible, albeit conditional and means-tested, scheme against absolute poverty – Separation of powers – Textualism – Framers’ original understanding – Living constitutionalism and courts’ relationship with public opinion – Italian, EU and international constraints on citizenship and duration-of-residence requirements – Fiscal sustainability

© 2017 The Authors 

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1 Lactantius, , Divine Institutes (Liverpool University Press 2003) Vol. 16-18, p. 313-319 Google Scholar.

2 Hart, H. L. A., ‘Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals’, 71 Harvard Law Review (1958) p. 593 CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 607.

3 See n. 96 infra. See also L.M. Levi, ‘Judicial Enforcement of the Right to Social Assistance. Constitutional Courts as Champions of People in Need?’ (unpublished paper written in satisfaction of the LL.M. writing requirement, Harvard Law School, academic year 2014-15) p. 37.

4 Fuller, L., ‘The Case of the Speluncean Explorers’, 62 Harvard Law Review (1949) p. 616 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 D. Kennedy, ‘Freedom and Constraint in Adjudication’, 36 Journal of Legal Education (1986) p. 518. Cf. also D. Kennedy, ‘A Phenomenology of “Deference” in Contemporary Legal Thought’ (forthcoming 2017), where the author discusses a fictional social-rights constitutional case to address issues of separation of powers.

6 Holmes, O. W., ‘The Path of the Law’, 10 Harvard Law Review (1897) p. 457 Google Scholar at p. 459.

7 Posner, R. A., How Judges Think (Harvard University Press 2008) p. 60 Google Scholar.

8 Cf. Delgado, R., ‘The Ethereal Scholar: Does Critical Legal Studies Have What Minorities Want?’, 22 Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review (1987) p. 301 Google Scholar at p. 315 (questioning the helpfulness of informal decision-making from the perspective of minorities).

9 See E. Barberis et al., ‘Social Assistance Policy Models in Europe: A Comparative Perspective’, in Y. Kazepov (ed.), Rescaling Social Policies: Towards Multilevel Governance in Europe (Ashgate Publishing 2010) p. 177 at p. 180-187; C. de Neubourg et al., ‘Social Safety Nets and Targeted Social Assistance: Lessons from the European Experience’ (Social Protection and Labor Discussion Paper No. 0718, The World Bank 2007) at p. 15-16, 24; Saraceno, C., ‘Concepts and Practices of Social Citizenship in Europe: the Case of Poverty and Income Support for the Poor’, in United in Diversity? Comparing Social Models in Europe and America (Oxford University Press 2010) p. 163 Google Scholar.

10 Petrarca, F., ‘Solo et Pensoso’, in Canzoniere. Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta (Einaudi 2005) p. 189 Google Scholar.

11 The role of rapporteur is a powerful one, for it allows the Justice to orient the debate and influence the final outcome of the case. For a critical reflection upon the risk that the rapporteur overshadows the other Justices, see Rossi, E., ‘Relatore, Redattore e Collegio nel Processo Costituzionale’, in P. Costanzo (ed.), L’Organizzazione e il Funzionamento della Corte Costituzionale (Giappichelli 1996) p. 338 Google Scholar at p. 347, 355.

12 Art. 74, D.Lgs. 26 marzo 2001, n. 151. The benefit was originally introduced by Art. 66, L. 23 dicembre 1998, n. 448. The other nationwide maternity benefit, the Assegno di Maternità dello Stato, is available only to mothers who have worked and paid payroll taxes for at least three months during the nine months preceding pregnancy (Art. 75, D.Lgs. 26 marzo 2001, n. 151). The two forms of maternity benefit, one granted by the State, the other by the municipalities, have different eligibility requirements and cannot be cumulated.

13 For example, for the year 2015 the poverty line for a single adult living with a child in a large northern Italian city was set at €984,64 per month: <>, visited 23 December 2016.

14 The first nationwide social assistance scheme – the Pensione Sociale – was introduced in the late 1960s, and benefited people over the age of 65 (Art. 26, L. 30 aprile 1969, n. 153) (now replaced by the Assegno Sociale, introduced by Art. 3(6), L. 8 agosto 1995, n. 335). Two other schemes, the Pensione di Inabilità and the Assegno Mensile per l’Invalidità Civile, soon followed, in favour of people with disabilities (Arts. 12 and 13, L. 30 marzo 1971, n. 118). While these innovations represented a significant step forward, poverty as such – i.e., devoid of additional qualifications – remained for the most part extraneous to public protection. In the late 1990s, however, the first Prodi Government tried to change such a state of affairs. Two specific benefits were introduced to tackle the most pressing instances of indigence: a maternity benefit (see n. 13 supra) and a benefit for families with three or more children (Art. 65, L. 23 dicembre 1998, n. 448). In addition, and more importantly, a general scheme against absolute poverty (Reddito Minimo di Inserimento) was introduced on an experimental basis in 39 municipalities (Art. 59.47-8, L. 27 dicembre 1997, n. 449). The second Berlusconi Government, however, discontinued the RMI project altogether: see S. Sacchi and F. Bastagli, ‘Italy—Striving Uphill but Stopping Halfway. The Troubled Journey of the Experimental Minimum Insertion Income’, in M. Ferrera (ed.), Welfare State Reform in Southern Europe. Fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece (Routledge 2005) p. 84 at p. 109-111. For an overview of existing social assistance benefits, see M. Ferrera, Le Politiche Sociali: l’Italia in Prospettiva Comparata (Il Mulino 2006) p. 238-243; M. Persiani, Diritto della Previdenza Sociale (Cedam 2014) p. 380-398.

15 Persiani, supra n. 14, p. 8 (claiming that the fragmentation of ‘friendly societies [...] left, so to speak, an indelible mark’ on Italian welfare).

16 M. Ferrera et al., Alle Radici del Welfare all’Italiana. Origini e Futuro di un Modello Sociale Squilibrato (Marsilio 2012) p. 52 (describing fascist corporatism as ‘characterised by a systematic inequality of treatment’ between ‘occupational groups, and even [between] particular [sub]groups’).

17 Esping-Andersen, G., The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Princeton University Press 1990) p. 39 Google Scholar at p. 60 (arguing that the ‘welfare clientelism’ pursued by Christian-Democratic administrations was conducive to a ‘myriad of status-differentiated social insurance schemes’).

18 See text between n. 27 and n. 50 infra.

19 Art. 74, D.Lgs. 26 marzo 2001, n. 151, for granting ‘a cheque amounting to 2.5ml lire’ instead of ‘a monthly cheque, to be issued until the involuntary condition of absolute poverty no longer persists’.

20 Idem, Art. 74(7).

21 Art. 3(1), letters (b) and (c), D.Lgs. 4 marzo 2015, n. 22. The 2015 reform relaxed the eligibility requirements: to get unemployment insurance, it is now sufficient to have paid contributions for at least 13 weeks over the previous four years, and to have worked for at least 30 days over the year preceding unemployment. While unemployment insurance is usually not regarded as a form of ‘social assistance’, it often functions as an instrument that allows the recipient to escape absolute poverty. Indeed, the 2015 relaxation of the contributory and working requirements signals that the ‘solidarity dimension’ of the benefit is prevailing over its ‘insurance dimension’.

22 See n. 14 supra.

23 Art. 3 of the Italian Constitution reads as follows: ‘All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, with no distinction on the basis of gender, race, language, religion, political opinions, personal and social conditions. It is the task of the Republic to remove the obstacles of an economic or social nature that, limiting in practice citizens’ freedom and equality, hamper the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in the political, economic and social organisation of the Country’.

24 Art. 38, para. 1 of the Italian Constitution reads as follows: ‘Every citizen unable to work and devoid of the means that are necessary to live has a right to maintenance and social assistance’. Para. 2 reads: ‘In case of accident, illness, disability and old age, involuntary unemployment, workers have a right that adequate means for their needs are devised and guaranteed’).

25 I am presupposing that the plaintiff opted to participate in the hearings in front of the Constitutional Court. Cf. U. Spagnoli, ‘Appunti di un Giudice Costituzionale’, in Costanzo (ed.), supra n. 11, p. 26 at p. 27 (claiming that the active participation of the parties to the constitutional proceedings enriched the Justices’ discussion).

26 A ‘bad’ judge is not concerned about how to advance justice, but about how to ‘deal with’ the case: cf. S. Cassese, Dentro la Corte. Dario di un Giudice Costituzionale (Il Mulino 2015) p. 88; Zagrebelsky, G., Principî e Voti. La Corte Costituzionale e la Politica (Einaudi 2005) p. 78 Google Scholar.

27 In the taxonomy put forward by Cass Sunstein, our imaginary judge would probably fall within the category of the ‘Mutes’, surrounded by judges who prefer – like him – ‘to say nothing at all’: Sunstein, C., Constitutional Personae (Oxford University Press 2015) p. 18-24 Google Scholar.

28 Art. 23, L. 11 marzo 1953, n. 87.

29 See M. Bellocci and T. Giovannetti, ‘Il Quadro delle Tipologie Decisorie nelle Pronunce della Corte Costituzionale’ (conference paper, June 11, 2010, Rome) para. 1(2), <>, visited 23 December 2016.

30 Point (iv) above: see text to n. 22 supra.

31 The challenge would be addressed against Art. 23, L. 11 marzo 1953, n. 87. Cf. Corte cost., ord. 5 aprile 1960, n. 22 (arguing that it would be paradoxical if ‘this very Court [...] were bound to enforce unconstitutional laws’, and that the only way to avoid this paradox is to allow the Court to raise constitutional challenges in front of itself); Belletti, M., ‘Il Giudizio di Legittimità Costituzionale sulle Leggi e gli Atti con Forza di Legge’, in L. Mezzetti et al., La Giustizia Costituzionale (Cedam 2007) p. 320 Google Scholar at p. 421.

32 Crisafulli, V., La Costituzione e le Sue Disposizioni di Principio (Giuffré 1952) p. 82 Google Scholar.

33 Idem, p. 49 (‘[T]he specific sanction of invalidation can sometimes be achieved, indirectly, even in the hypothesis of omissive violations, by challenging statutes enacted in different but connected areas’) and p. 81-83 (in some cases of legislative inertia, the parties ‘will be able to challenge the constitutionality of the old laws, [...] thus indirectly obliging the legislative organs to break their inertia’).

34 See Bellocci and Giovannetti, supra n. 29, para. 1(2).

35 Ibid.

36 Sometimes the Court was motivated by the desire to avoid political backlash. On other occasions, it resisted politicians’ attempts to use the Court to resolve controversial questions. See generally Cassese, supra n. 26, p. 31, 42, 95; Zagrebelsky, supra n. 26, p. 77; Carlassare, L., ‘Le Decisioni d’Inammissibilità e di Manifesta Infondatezza della Corte Costituzionale’, 109 For. It. (1986) p. 293 Google Scholar at p. 303.

37 Tolstoy, L. N., ‘Childhood’, in Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (Penguin Books 1964) p. 23 Google Scholar.

38 N. Ferrigni, ‘Il Reddito di Cittadinanza: Una Scelta Consapevole’ (2005), <>, visited 23 December 2016.

39 L. Greenhouse, Becoming Justice Blackmun (Times Books 2005) p. 31. See also, e.g., M. Fiorillo, ‘Corte Costituzionale e Opinione Pubblica’, in V. Tondi della Mura et al. (eds.), Corte Costituzionale e Processi di Decisione Politica (Giappichelli 2005) p. 90 at pp. 125-49. Cf. also Cassese, supra n. 26, p. 110; E. Cheli, Il Giudice delle Leggi: la Corte Costituzionale nella Dinamica dei Poteri (Il Mulino 1996) p. 34-35 (contending that the need of self-legitimation in front of the general public was particularly strong during the first 15 years of the Court’s activity, i.e. from the late 1950s to the early 1970s).

40 See generally Cassese, supra n. 26, p. 24. But see, Fiorillo, supra n. 39, p. 126-127.

41 Istituto Ixé, Poll for Agorà Rai3 (15 May 2015), <>, visited 23 December 2016.

42 Cf. Rosselli, C., ‘Socialismo Liberale’, in Opere Scelte di Carlo Rosselli (Einaudi 1973) p. 457-462 Google Scholar (describing the attitude of the average Italian at the time of the advent of fascism as a combination of ‘petit bourgeois idealism’ and ‘moral laziness’, ‘facility of enthusiasm’ and ‘renunciation of political fight’).

43 Cf. Sacchi and Bastagli, supra n. 14, p. 90 (criticising the 2001 reform for depriving the national government of the co-ordination powers that it had acquired shortly before, with the framework law of Nov. 8, 2000, n. 328: see n. 123 infra).

44 See De Siervo, , ‘Assistenza e Beneficienza Pubblica’, 1 Digesto delle Discipline Pubblicistiche (1987) p. 450 Google Scholar (criticising the rules in question as characterised by ‘archaic and heterogeneous expressions’, which leave to the reader ‘an ample interpretative leeway’).

45 Art. 117(4) of the Italian Constitution.

46 See, e.g., L. Violini, ‘Art. 38’, in R. Bifulco et al. (eds.), 1 Commentario alla Costituzione (Utet Giuridica 2006) p. 775 at p. 789.

47 Art. 117(2) letter (m) of the Italian Constitution.

48 Corte cost., 15 gennaio 2010, n. 10. See Levi, supra n. 3, p. 42.

49 See Levi, supra n. 3, p. 54-56.

50 Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, 349 U.S. 294, 301 (1955) [‘Brown II’]. For a discussion of how the general public and political authorities reacted to the decision, see M. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights (Oxford University Press 2004) p. 318-320.

51 Cf. A. Baldassarre, ‘Prove di Riforma dell’Organizzazione e del Funzionamento della Corte Costituzionale: la Mia Esperienza’, in Costanzo (ed.), supra n. 11, p. 17 at p. 18 (arguing that decisions should be written in a style understandable to the public). Cf. also G. Carofiglio, La Manomissione delle Parole (Rizzoli 2010) p. 128 (claiming that the obscurity in legal language is a ‘subtle, esoteric, authoritarian form to exercise power’).

52 See Massa, M., ‘Profili Costituzionali del Diritto al Mantenimento nella Dinamica tra Normazione e Interpretazione’, Riv. Dir. Sicurezza Soc. (2004) p. 183 Google Scholar at p. 188.

53 Sec. 41, Constitution of Spain (mandating the provision of ‘adequate social assistance and benefits’ for citizens ‘in situations of hardship, especially in case of unemployment’ [my emphasis]).

54 See Levi, supra n. 3, p. 29.

55 Cf. C. Tripodina, ‘Reddito di Cittadinanza come “Risarcimento per Mancato Procurato Lavoro.” Il Dovere della Repubblica di Garantire il Diritto al Lavoro o Assicurare Altrimenti il Diritto all’Esistenza’, (2015), para. 2 and n. 8 (acknowledging that the narrow reading of the clause ‘is not the only possible interpretation’).

56 G. Devoto and G.C. Oli, Vocabolario della Lingua Italiana (Le Monnier 2007) p. 1327. Similar definitions are to be found in F. Sabatini and V. Coletti, Dizionario della Lingua Italiana (RCS Libri 2007) p. 1247 (defining inabile as ‘lacking the qualities, capacities, strengths needed to carry out an activity’); Zingarelli, N., Vocabolario della Lingua Italiana (Zanichelli 2001) p. 869 Google Scholar.

57 See M. Mazziotti, ‘Assistenza’, 3 Enc. Dir. (Giuffré 1958) p. 749 at p. 753 (claiming that ‘the beneficiary, apart from being devoid of the means of subsistence, [must] also be unable to work; [a requirement] whose justification is so clear that it is not worth discussing’); O. Sepe, ‘Il “Diritto” all’Assistenza nella Costituzione’, 12 Riv. It. Prev. Soc. (1959) p. 361 at p. 377 (talking of a ‘gap’ in Art. 38, for it allegedly fails to protect the able-bodied). Cf. also E. Ales, ‘Sicurezza Sociale e Assistenza Sociale (Art. 34 e 38)’, Rass. Dir. Pubbl. Eur. (2008) p. 212-3 (arguing that ‘the Italian constitutional model excludes the possibility that people able to work can benefit from social assistance’, but at the same time invoking a broader interpretation of the Italian Constitution in light of the Charter of Nice).

58 Cortellazzo, M. and Zolli, P., Dizionario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana (Zanichelli 1999) p. 742 Google Scholar; De Mauro, T. and Mancini, M., Dizionario Etimologico (Garzanti 2000) p. 951 Google Scholar.

59 Livy, History of Rome, Volume VII: Books 26-27 (Harvard University Press 1943) p. 62-63. I take this example on Livy’s use of the word inhabilis from Campanini, G. and Carboni, G., Nomen. Il Nuovissimo Campanini-Carboni (Paravia 2002) p. 813 Google Scholar; Castiglioni, L. and Mariotti, S., IL Vocabolario della Lingua Latina (Loescher 2007) p. 705 Google Scholar.

60 Livy, supra n. 59, p. 62 (‘sine consilio publico, sine imperio multitudinem, nullius rei inter se sociam, ad consensum inhabilem fore’).

61 Cortellazzo and Zolli, supra n. 58, p. 742.

62 Gabrielli, A., Dizionario dei Sinonimi e dei Contrari (Loescher 2001) p. 388 Google Scholar; Simone, R., Sinonimi e Contrari (Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani 2009) p. 450 Google Scholar; Trifone, M., Il Devoto-Oli dei Sinonimi e Contrari (Le Monnier 2013) p. 609 Google Scholar. But see Pittàno, G., Sinonimi e Contrari (Zanichelli 1997) p. 460-461 Google Scholar (including ‘disabile’ among the synonyms of ‘inabile’).

63 See Sepe, supra n. 57, p. 374.

64 Amintore Fanfani (DC), Gustavo Ghidini (PSI), Francesco Marinaro (BNL), Angelina Merlin (PSI), Paolo Emilio Taviani (DC), Giuseppe Togni (DC). Acronyms in brackets indicate their respective party affiliation: Democrazia Cristiana (DC), Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI), Blocco Nazionale della Libertà (BNL). Assemblea Costituente, Commissione per la Costituzione, Sottocommissione, Terza, Resoconto Sommario della Seduta di Mercoledì 11 Settembre 1946, p. 21-25 Google Scholar.

65 Assemblea Costituente, Commissione per la Costituzione, Terza Sottocommissione, Resoconto Sommario della Seduta di Mercoledì 11 Settembre 1946, p. 26; Assemblea Costituente, Commissione per la Costituzione, Terza Sottocommissione, Resoconto Sommario della Seduta di Mercoledì 26 Ottobre 1946, p. 257.

66 Assemblea Costituente, Commissione per la Costituzione, Prima Sottocommissione, Resoconto Sommario della Seduta di Giovedì 10 Ottobre 1946, p. 219.

67 Art. 34, Progetto di Costituzione della Repubblica Italiana (presented by the Commission for the Constitution to the President of the Plenary Assembly on 31 January 1947).

68 See Lynch, J., ‘Italy: A Christian Democratic or Clientelist Welfare State?’, in K. van Kersbergen and P. Manow (eds.), Religion, Class Coalitions, and Welfare States (Cambridge University Press 2009) p. 91 CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 105-110 (discussing the political incentives that induced both the Christian-Democratic party and the left to repudiate universalism). Cf. also D. Rueda, ‘Insider–Outsider Politics in Industrialized Democracies: The Challenge to Social Democratic Parties’, 99 American Political Science Review (2005) p. 61 (arguing that social-democratic parties in the modern economy have an incentive to neglect the interests of labour-market outsiders; note, however, that dualisation and fragmentation have characterised Italian welfare since the very beginning, when socialists were still excluded from Government coalitions). See text between n. 15 and n. 17 supra.

69 Mario Rodinò, elected in the ranks of the Uomo Qualunque Party, even suggested restricting protection to people suffering from an ‘absolute physical or mental incapacity to work’ [my emphasis]: Mario Rodinò, Assemblea Costituente, Seduta Pomeridiana di Sabato 10 Maggio 1947, p. 3832. The two notable exceptions in this debate were the dissenting voices of Enrico Medi and Francesco Colitto: Enrico Medi, Assemblea Costituente, Seduta Pomeridiana di Martedì 6 Maggio 1947, p. 3633 (arguing that any cause which made a person unable to satisfy her basic needs should be sufficient to entitle him/her to social assistance); Francesco Colitto, Assemblea Costituente, Seduta Pomeridiana di Sabato 10 Maggio 1947, p. 3824 (including ‘general economic circumstances’ among the conditions sufficient to trigger a right to social assistance).

70 11ème Alinéa, Préambule, Constitution Française de 1946.

71 Approximately 22.4% of pregnant workers not only leave their jobs, but remain unemployed two years after delivery: Istat, ‘Avere Figli in Italia negli Anni 2000’ (2014), p. 25, <>, visited 23 December 2016. These figures are particularly dramatic in the South, where the ratio of women leaving the workforce permanently after delivery rises to one in three: idem, p. 26. Cf. A. S. Orloff, ‘Gender and the Social Rights of Citizenship: The Comparative Analysis of Gender Relations and Welfare States’, 58 American Social Review (1993) p. 303 at p. 317-321 (arguing that welfare states should be assessed and compared for their different ability to include women in the labour market on equal terms).

72 Art. 38(2) of the Italian Constitution: ‘Workers have the right to provision and assurance of the means adequate to their living needs in the event of accident, illness, disability and old age, involuntary unemployment’.

73 As recognised by Gustavo Ghidini, socialist deputy in the Constitutional Assembly, the expression ‘involuntary unemployment’ is ‘so broad as to include all imaginable instances’. Assemblea Cost, Seduta Pomeridiana di Sabato 10 maggio 1947, p. 3836.

74 But see Baldassarre, A., ‘Diritti Sociali’, in 9 Enc. Giur. (1989) p. 1 Google Scholar at p. 20 (speaking of a ‘structural identity’ between these two forms of welfare); Persiani, M., ‘Art. 38’, in G. Branca (ed.), Commentario alla Costituzione. Rapporti Economici, Tomo I: Art. 35-40 (Zanichelli 1979) p. 232 Google Scholar at p. 240 (stressing the unity of intent underlying social assistance and workers’ welfare); Violini, supra n. 46, n. 105.

75 Cf. Persiani, supra n. 74, p. 243 (arguing that the enumeration of risks set forth in Art. 38(2) is not intended to be an exhaustive catalogue).

76 Cf. Perlingieri, P. and Balletti, S., ‘Art. 38’, in P. Perlingieri (ed.), Commentario alla Costituzione Italiana (Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane 1997) p. 262 Google Scholar at p. 264.

77 See, e.g., Corte cost., 5 febbraio 1986, n. 31.

78 See n. 68 supra.

79 On the ‘double soul’ of the Constitution, which oscillates between solidarity and insurance-like welfare, see L. Violini, supra n. 46, p. 777. Reciprocity, to be sure, is not considered by everyone a negative value: see, e.g., Galston, W. A., ‘What About Reciprocity?’, in P. Van Parijs (ed.), What’s Wrong With a Free Lunch? (Beacon Press 2001) p. 29 Google Scholar at p. 32.

80 But see F. Pizzolato, ‘L’Incompiuta Attuazione del Minimo Vitale nell’Ordinamento Italiano’, 5 Riv. Dir. Sicurezza Soc. (2005) p. 243 at p. 246 (arguing that the doctrine of personalism and the framers’ emphasis on workers are not at odds, but reciprocally complement each other).

81 See, e.g., Barsotti, V. et al., Italian Constitutional Justice in a Global Context (Oxford University Press 2015) p. 68 Google Scholar, 71.

82 See A. Amorth, La Costituzione Italiana. Commento Sistematico (Giuffrè 1948) p. 44-5 (arguing that the principle of ‘social justice’ is ‘a fundamental characteristic of the new constitution’); Barsotti et al., supra n. 81, p. 144-145; M. Bergo, Il Diritto Sociale Frammentato. Principio di Sussidiarietà e Assistenza Sociale (Cedam 2013) p. 364-365; Cardia, C., ‘Assistenza e Beneficenza: I) Diritto Amministrativo’, 3 Enc. Giur. (1988) p. 1 Google Scholar at p. 3; Persiani, supra n. 14, p. 2, 15, 388; Persiani, supra n. 74, p. 241 (reading Art. 38 in the light of the collective responsibilities mentioned in Art. 3).

83 Cf. Lamarque, E., Corte Costituzionale e Giudici nell’Italia Repubblicana (Laterza 2012) p. 84 Google Scholar (qualifying the Court’s activity as one of ‘constitutional pedagogy’).

84 See Capuzzo, G. and Masi, M. Di, ‘Le Ragioni del Reddito Minimo Garantito’, 33 Riv. Critica Dir. Priv. (2015) p. 317 Google Scholar at p. 320.

85 See Kennedy (forthcoming 2017), supra n. 5.

86 V. Crisafulli, ‘La Corte Costituzionale ha Vent’Anni’, in Occhiocupo (ed.), La Corte Costituzionale tra Norma Giuridica e Realtà Sociale: Bilancio di Vent’anni di Attività (Cedam 1984) p. 69 at p. 73 (describing judicial review not as an ‘antinomy, but as an alteration’ of the democracy principle).

87 See Zagrebelsky, supra n. 26, p. 25 ff. (arguing that the Court adopts a political function in the sense that it protects the pactum societatis at the basis of society). See also, N. Bobbio, Diritto e Stato nel Pensiero di Emanuele Kant (Giappichelli 1969) p. 37 (discussing Johannes Althusius’ theory of the ‘double contract’, according to which individuals first abandon the state of nature and gather into a community of people (pactum societatis), and then subject themselves to a sovereign power by means of a pactum subiectionis).

88 Crisafulli, supra n. 86, p. 84.

89 Dworkin, R., ‘Law as Interpretation’, 9 Critical Inquiry (1982) p. 179 CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 192.

90 See, e.g., Corte cost., 15 maggio 1990, n. 241.

91 See Kennedy (forthcoming 2017), supra n. 5, p. 19.

92 This fracture was exacerbated by the electoral law enacted in 2005, which: (i) did not allow voters to express a preference for individual candidates, but only for a party; and (ii) allocated a majority bonus to the largest party, but contained no minimum threshold to access the bonus, thus potentially allowing a party with exiguous electoral support to gain the majority in Parliament. The law was deeply flawed, not only in the eyes of the public, but also in those of the Court, which eventually struck it down as unconstitutional: Corte cost., 13 gennaio 2014, n. 1.

93 See text to n. 41, supra.

94 See L. Elia, ‘Relazione di Sintesi’, in Occhiocupo (ed.), supra n. 86, p. 163, 164 (speaking, in his capacity as Justice, of ‘an attempt to anchor [the Court’s case law] to social conscience’); G. Zagrebelsky, ‘Relazione’, in Occhiocupo (ed.), supra n. 86, p. 103, 118 (arguing in favour of the use of the principle of rationality as a means by which the Court draws from that ‘complex of largely accepted values’).

95 Cassese, supra n. 26, p. 20, 38; Zagrebelsky, supra n. 26, p. 83; Zagrebelsky and Marcenò, Giustizia Costituzionale (Il Mulino 2012) p. 114; T. Groppi and I. Spigno, ‘Constitutional Reasoning in the Italian Constitutional Court’, 4 Riv. AIC (2014) p. 19.

96 See, e.g., Corte cost., 6-13 maggio 1987, n. 158; Corte cost. 25 giugno 1985, n. 186; Corte cost., 22 giugno 1966, n. 92.

97 See, e.g., Corte cost., 28 maggio 1974, n. 160 (‘social protection [must] be concretely guaranteed to all categories of workers […] with no discrimination between this and that category’).

98 Corte cost., 5 febbraio 1986, n. 31.

99 Ibid. See also Massa, supra n. 52, p. 190.

100 In the US, the judge could have dismissed these words as mere dicta. But the dicta versus holding distinction does not apply in Italy, where all the constituent parts of an opinion enjoy authoritative status: see Lamarque, supra n. 83, p. 98, 111 (illustrating the diffusion of the ‘principle of totality’ as the interpretative canon of the Court’s precedents). Cf. Zagrebelsky and Marcenò, supra n. 95, p. 116-117.

101 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, ‘Country Comparison: Public Debt 2015’, <>, visited 18 October 2016.

102 L. cost. 20 aprile 2012, n. 1, amending Art. 81(2), Cost. Cf. Bergonzini, C., ‘The Italian Constitutional Court and Balancing the Budget’, 12 EuConst (2016) p. 177 Google Scholar at p. 178.

103 In order to avoid the principle of a balanced budget being bypassed by resorting to public borrowing, the 2012 reform made reckless government spending more difficult: borrowing is now permitted only ‘to take account of the effects of the economic cycle’ or upon the occurrence of an ‘exceptional event’ (in which case, a pre-emptive authorisation from Parliament is also required). It remains unclear, however, whether these constraints on borrowing can effectively be enforced. See Delledonne, G., ‘A Legalization of Financial Constitutions in the EU? Reflections on the German, Spanish, Italian and French Experiences’, in M. Adams et al. (eds.), The Constitutionalization of European Budgetary Constraints (Hart 2014) p. 181 Google Scholar at p. 189-192; T. Groppi et al., ‘The Constitutional Consequences of the Financial Crisis in Italy’, in X. Contiades (ed.), Constitutions in the Global Financial Crisis. A Comparative Analysis (Ashgate 2013) p. 89 at p. 97; Luciani, M., ‘Costituzione, Bilancio, Diritti e Doveri dei Cittadini’, 6 Questione Giustizia (2012) p. 92 Google Scholar at p. 125-127.

104 Cf. Luciani, supra n. 103, p. 115 (defending the thesis that the 2012 constitutional reform was not irrelevant, and arguing instead that the reform ‘introduce[d] [new] parameters that our Constitutional Court can now enforce when it assesses the constitutionality of statutes’).

105 See C. Bergonzini, supra n. 102, p. 189 (claiming that the new constitutional principle of a balanced budget binds all public institutions, including courts, ‘to a management of public finances that is as responsible, effective and sustainable as possible’).

106 Alleanza Contro la Povertà in Italia, ‘Reddito di Inclusione Sociale: Proposta’ (2015), <>, visited 23 December 2016.

107 The Italian public expenditure for social services amounts to 28.6% of its GDP, or €458 billion (2014): OECD, Social Expenditure Database, <>, visited 23 December 2016. Eurostat, ‘GDP at Current Market Prices, 2005 and 2013–2015’, <>, visited 23 December 2016.

108 Such a tactful respect for the role of the legislator in cases involving costs for the national budget has been expressed, e.g., by Elia, supra n. 94, p. 165.

109 Corte cost., 30 aprile 2015, n. 70.

110 See, e.g., S. Cassese, ‘Pensioni, le Strade Possibili della Corte Costituzionale’, Corriere della Sera, 12 May 2015, p. 1, 4.

112 See Rueda, supra n. 68, p. 61.

113 See, e.g., the various organisations re-united under the umbrella of the ‘Alleanza Contro la Povertà in Italia’, listed here: <>, visited 23 December 2016.

114 See n. 14 supra. This does not mean that the Justices base their decisions on the political weight of this or that social group. When such a bias in favour of interest groups occurs, it occurs unconsciously. And on many occasions, this unconscious bias does not occur at all, as proved by a long list of cases where the Court advanced the interests of weak minorities. In 1987, for example, the Court nullified a statute that gave schools a margin of discretion over the admission of pupils with disabilities, and mandated their unconditional admission (Corte cost., 8 giugno 1987, n. 215). On the protection of minorities from the part of the Italian Constitutional Court, see generally M. Bellocci and P. Passaglia, ‘La Tutela dei “Soggetti Deboli” come Esplicazione dell’Istanza Solidaristica nella Giurisprudenza Costituzionale’ (2006), <>, visited Oct. 18, 2016; S. Scagliarini, ‘Diritti Sociali Nuovi e DirittiSocialiinFierinellaGiurisprudenzaCostituzionale’(2012), <>, visited 23 December 2016.

115 Cf. Kennedy (1986), supra n. 5, p. 55 (discussing the ‘legitimacy cost’ of a judicial decision).

116 For a critique of the decision, see A. Anzon Demmig, ‘Una Sentenza Sorprendente. Alterne Vicende del Principio dell’Equilibrio di Bilancio nella Giurisprudenza Costituzionale sulle Prestazioni a Carico del Pubblico Erario’, 2 Giur. Cost. (2015) p. 551. Cf. also P. Sandulli, ‘Dal Monito alla Caducazione delle Norme sul Blocco della Perequazione delle Pensioni’, 2 Giur. Cost. (2015) p. 559 (defending the decision, but contending that the Court should have limited its efficacy to the future, thus avoiding any retroactive effects).

117 Posner, supra n. 7, p. 70 (arguing that trial judges may unconsciously twist the facts to minimise the likelihood of being reversed).

118 Ibid.

119 See text between n. 52 and n. 70 supra.

120 See Barsotti et al., supra n. 81, pp. 74-5; M. La Torre, ‘Sullo Spirito Mite delle Leggi. Ragione, Razionalità, Ragionevolezza [Part 2]’, 1 Materiali per una Storia della Cultura Giur. (2012) p. 123 at p. 139. See also M. Cartabia, ‘I Principi di Ragionevolezza e Proporzionalità nella Giurisprudenza Costituzionale Italiana’ (conference paper, 24-26 October 2013, Rome) p. 2, 6, <>, visited 23 December 2016 (arguing that the Court uses the term ‘reasonableness’ as a synonym for ‘proportionality’). The question, to be sure, is not merely linguistic: the precise definition of these standards matters from a practical point of view, because it allows us to understand what the Court concretely demands of a statute, to let it stand. If the significance of these terms is left vague, the separation of powers and the very legitimacy of the Court can be jeopardised: idem, p. 7.

121 Cf. Zagrebelsky and Marcenò, supra n. 95, p. 196 (referring to this requirement as ‘the principle of rationality’). Cf. also Zagrebelsky, supra n. 26, p. 85-86. Other scholars, however, qualify the consistency requirement as one of the forms of the ‘reasonableness test’: see Cheli, supra n. 39, p. 51; Sandulli, A.M., ‘Il Principio di Ragionevolezza nella Giurisprudenza Costituzionale’, 1 Dir. e Società (1975) p. 561 Google Scholar at p. 569.

122 See Cartabia, supra n. 120, p. 6-7.

123 Art. 2(2), L. 8 novembre 2000, n. 328. The opening sentence of this paragraph declares that ‘the integrated system of social services and provisions is characterised by universality’.

124 Cf. Zagrebelsky and Marcenò, supra n. 95, p. 201.

125 Ibid.

126 On the distinction between rules and principles, see Dworkin, R., ‘The Model of Rules’, 35 University of Chicago Law Review (1967) p. 14 CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 23-9.

127 On the progressive use of the principle of consistency, see Zagrebelsky, G., ‘Su Tre Aspetti della Ragionevolezza’, in Il Principio di Ragionevolezza nella Giurisprudenza della Corte Costituzionale: Riferimenti Comparatistici (Giuffré 1994) p. 179 Google Scholar at p. 183.

128 For an overview of some emblematic cases where the Court declared certain statutes unconstitutional by virtue of their irrationality, see A. Morrone, Il Custode della Ragionevolezza (Giuffré 2001) p. 157, n. 32.

129 On the principle of maximum expansion in the balancing of constitutional rights, see Cartabia, supra n. 120, p. 11; Barsotti et al., supra n. 81, p. 77 (‘the balancing of fundamental rights must tend towards the optimization of the protection of fundamental rights and principles; that is, to the ‘maximum expansion of protection’ of every right involved’).

130 See n. 12 supra.

131 A new benefit, originally launched in 2012 in the 12 most populous Italian cities (Social Card Sperimentale), was recently extended to the entire country to meet the needs of families with minors, disabled persons and pregnant women (Sostegno per l’Inclusione Attiva): Art. 1(387), letter (a), L. 28 dicembre 2015, n. 208. This benefit, however, remains ‘categorical’ in nature, being addressed to specific categories of indigent people, rather than to indigents generally.

132 Disegno di Legge Delega concerning ‘the fight against poverty, the reorganization of benefits and the system of social services’, approved by the Chamber of Deputies on July 14, 2016 (n. 3594), currently being discussed in the Senate (n. 2494), <>, visited 23 December 2016. The financial resources currently set aside for the new universalistic measure, however, have been deemed insufficient by some commentators: see C. Agostini, ‘Il Disegno di Legge Delega per il Contrasto alla Povertà: Stato dell’Arte e Prospettive’, in Caritas Italiana, Non Fermiamo la Riforma. Rapporto 2016 sulle Politiche contro la Povertà (2016) p. 23 at p. 27, <>, visited 23 December 2016.

133 Barsotti et al., supra n. 81, p. 77 (contending that ‘the result of balancing can never consist of the complete sacrifice of one right in favor of other constitutional rights or principles, because the essential core of each right must be preserved’).

134 See, e.g., Corte cost., 9 maggio 2013, n. 85 (‘The point of equilibrium [...] is dynamic and not predetermined in advance’); Barsotti et al., supra n. 81, p. 77 (‘balancing [...] cannot be limited to a pure abstract judicial syllogism’); A. Giorgis, ‘Art. 3, 2º co., Cost.’, in R. Bifulco et al. (eds.), Commentario alla Costituzione (Utet 2006) p. 88 at p. 99-100; Sandulli, supra n. 121, p. 566; Zagrebelsky, supra n. 26, p. 85-86.

135 Cf. Giorgis, supra n. 134, p. 99-101 (contending that the Court must identify the ‘minimal essential content’ of a given right by looking at the particular personal conditions of the plaintiff, at the ‘specific cultural context’ against which the case is to be decided and at the amount of available wealth which can ‘reasonably be redistributed’ at a given point in time). Cf. D. Landau, ‘The Reality of Social Right Enforcement’, 53 Harvard International Law Journal (2012) p. 189 at p. 207-229 (arguing that the uncontrolled expansion of the principle of the ‘vital minimum’ tends to favour the middle classes, to the detriment of the poorest segments of the population).

136 See n. 111 supra.

137 Cf. Bergonzini, supra n. 102, p. 188-190 (arguing that the Court should ground its decisions upon a ‘full understanding of the economic and accounting consequences’).

138 See Orloff, supra n. 71, p. 318 (arguing, against Esping-Andersen’s call for a de-commodifying welfare, that social services should be assessed in terms of their ability to allow women to gain access to the workforce).

139 This is, e.g., the recommendation of E. Huber and J.D. Stephens, ‘Development and Crisis of the Welfare State’ (Chicago University Press 2001) p. 7. I take the distinction between ‘social consumption’ and ‘social investment’ policies from Gingrich, J. and Ansell, B. W., ‘The Dynamics of Social Investment: Human Capital, Activation, and Care’, in P. Beramendi et al. (eds.), The Politics of Advanced Capitalism (Cambridge University Press 2015) p. 282 CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 282.

140 This is the view recently expressed, e.g., by Ferrante, V., ‘A proposito del Disegno di Legge Governativo sul Contrasto alla Povertà’, 16 Riv. Dir. Sic. Soc. (2016) p. 447 Google Scholar at p. 464 (lamenting that a minimum income – and, presumably, even a conditional minimum income, as the author does not specify otherwise – would generate ‘forms of parasitism’). The efficiency critique of welfare is not just a prerogative of neoliberal thinkers. In fact, it has historically been expressed by critics of capitalism, too: see, e.g., Polanyi, K., The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Beacon 2001) p. 85 Google Scholar (blaming the ‘Speenhamland system’ of early nineteenth-century England for functioning as a poverty trap).

141 This is the argument used by Leonard Hobhouse to refute the objection that social assistance would stymie the recipients’ incentive to work: L. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism (Oxford University Press 1945) p. 182 (‘[W]hat the State […] would be doing […] would by no means suffice to meet the needs of the normal man. He would still have to labour to earn his own living. But he would have a basis to go upon’).

142 Pederzoli, P., La Corte Costituzionale (Il Mulino 2008) p. 158 Google Scholar; Rossi, supra n. 11, p. 349; G. Vaglio, ‘Relatore e Redattore nel Processo Costituzionale’, in Costanzo (ed.), supra n. 11, p. 385 at p. 396; Zagrebelsky, supra n. 26, p. 74.

143 I am using the taxonomy put forward by Tushnet, M., Weak Courts, Strong Rights (Princeton University Press 2008) p. 248-249 Google Scholar. According to Tushnet, ‘strong’ enforcement consists in ‘injunctions that spell out in detail what Government officials are to do’ by ‘identifying goals, the achievement of which can be measured easily’ and setting ‘specific deadlines for the accomplishment of these goals’.

144 See text between n. 85 and n. 94 supra.

145 On the need of involving the legislator in the process of enforcement of the right to social assistance, see, e.g., Baldassarre, supra n. 74, p. 20; Mazziotti, supra n. 57, p. 752 (claiming that ‘[t]he enforcement of the new principles asserted in these constitutional rules obviously requires specific statues’, emphasis added).

146 An illustration of each of these controversial points has been provided by P. Van Parijs, ‘Basic Income: A Simple and Powerful Idea for the Twenty-First Century’, in B. Ackerman et al. (eds.), Redesigning Distribution (Verso 2006) p. 7.

147 See n. 13 supra.

148 Supreme Court of Israel, 8 November 2011, Hassan v National Insurance Institute.

149 D.P.C.M. 5 dicembre 2013, n. 159, enacted by Government under Parliamentary authorisation (Art. 5, D.L. 6 dicembre 2011, n. 201, converted into law with amendments by L. 22 dicembre 2011, n. 214).

150 See Zagrebelsky and Marcenò, supra n. 95, p. 407.

151 Constitutional Court of South Africa, October 4, 2000, South Africa v Grootboom, para. 66.

152 Landau, supra n. 135, p. 197-198, nn. 33-34.

153 Idem p. 192 (arguing in favour of ‘stronger forms of review and judicial activism’).

154 See, e.g., Ferrera (2006), supra n. 14; Alleanza Contro la Povertà in Italia, supra n. 101, p. 23.

155 But see Ferrera, M., ‘The New Spatial Politics of Welfare in the E.U.’, in G. Bonoli and D. Natali (eds.), The Politics of the New Welfare State (Oxford University Press 2012) p. 256 CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 267-270.

156 Arts. 3 and 4, Regulation 338/2004.

157 Art. 24 (1), Directive 2004/38/EC.

158 Idem Art. 24(2).

159 ECJ 23 February 2010, Case C-310/08, London Borough of Harrow v Ibrahim; ECJ 23 February 2010, Case C-480/2008, Teixeira v London Borough of Lambeth and Secretary of State for the Home Department. In these twin cases, the Court held that the right to education of current or former European workers’ children implies that both the child and the parent have a right to residence and to access social services on an equal footing.

160 ECJ 11 November 2014, Case C-333/13, Dano v Jobcenter Leipzig. In para. 69, the Court held that ‘so far as concerns access to social benefits [...] a Union citizen can claim equal treatment with nationals of the host Member State only if his residence in the territory of the host Member State complies with the conditions of Directive 2004/38’.

161 ECJ London Borough of Harrow v Ibrahim, supra n. 151, para. 80.

162 Shapiro v Thompson 394 U.S. 618 (1969).

163 Art. 23, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

164 A. Cerretelli, ‘I Nodi che l’Europa non Riesce a Sciogliere’, Il Sole 24 Ore, 28 December 2013 (illustrating how only a few hundred migrants have been reallocated to other EU Member States, out of the 160,000 which the EU countries had agreed to share).

165 Art. 14, ECHR, does not ban all discrimination, but only that impinging on the rights falling within the scope of the ECHR. For this reason, applicants have tried to argue (successfully) that some welfare entitlements can count as ‘possessions’ under Art. 1, Protocol 1: see, e.g., ECtHR 16 March 2010, Case No. 42185/05, Carson v United Kingdom (‘although there [is] no obligation on a State under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to create a welfare or pension scheme, if a State [enacts] legislation providing for the payment as of right of a welfare benefit or pension [...] that legislation [has] to be regarded as generating a proprietary interest falling within the ambit of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1’); ECtHR 29 October 2009, Case No. 29137/06, Si Amer v France, paras. 26-27.

166 ECtHR 16 September 1996, Case No. 17371/90, Gaygusuz v Austria, para. 42 (‘very weighty reasons would have to be put forward before the Court could regard a difference of treatment based exclusively on the ground of nationality as compatible with the Convention’); ECtHR 27 November 2007, Case No. 77782/01, Luczak v Poland, para. 52.

167 The scope of that discretion, the Court said, varies from case to case ‘according to the circumstances, the subject matter and the background’: ECtHR 12 April 2006, Case No. 65900/01, Stec v United Kingdom, para. 52.

168 See Levi, supra n. 3, p. 28.

169 See S. Cassese, ‘I Diritti Sociali degli “Altri” ’, in Riv. Dir. Sicurezza Soc. (2015) p. 677 at p. 679.

170 Corte cost., 27 febbraio 2015, n. 22; Corte cost., 15 marzo 2013, n. 40; Corte cost. 16 dicembre 2011, n. 329; Corte cost., 28 maggio 2010, n. 187; Corte cost. 30 luglio 2008, n. 306. See Cassese, supra n. 169, p. 679-680; F. Biondi Dal Monte, ‘Lo Stato Sociale di Fronte alle Migrazioni. Diritti Sociali, Appartenenza e Dignità della Persona’ (conference paper, June 8-9, 2012, Trapani), <>, visited 23 December 2016.

171 Corte cost., 9 febbraio 2011, n. 40; Corte cost., 2 dicembre 2005, n. 432; Biondi Dal Monte, supra n. 170, p. 28.

172 Corte cost., 19 luglio 2013, n. 222.

173 To be sure, the line separating primary needs from other needs is inevitably blurred: see Biondi Dal Monte, supra n. 170, p. 24-25. The Court itself may have realised this difficulty when it struck down a 24-month residence requirement for some benefits, while upholding the same requirement for other benefits: Corte cost., 19 luglio 2013, n. 222.

174 Conseil Constitutionnel, 17 June 2011, n. 137.

175 Art. 3 of the Iralian Constitution, supra n. 23.

176 Kloppenberg, J.T., Uncertain Victory. Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920 (Oxford University Press 1986) p. 82 Google Scholar, 278-280, 395-401.

177 See, e.g., Covili, B., ‘I Diritti Sociali nella Concezione Storico-Giuridica di Piero Calamandrei: la Speranza Riformatrice e le Inadempienze Costituzionali’, 8 Scienza e Politica (1996) p. 91 Google Scholar at p. 99 (discussing the influence of Carlo Rosselli on Piero Calamandrei).

178 The right has been described as conditional in at least a double sense: conditional on its implementation by Parliament, and conditional on the availability of financial resources: Gabriele, F., ‘Diritti Sociali, Unità Nazionale e Risorse (In)disponibili’, 3 Riv. AIC (2013) p. 2 Google Scholar.

179 Manzoni, A., The Betrothed (Knopf 2013) p. 41-45 Google Scholar (narrating the story of the meeting between Renzo, the main character, and Doctor Azzecca-Garbugli, a seventeenth-century Italian lawyer whose ‘table [is] piled with briefs, appeals, demands and edicts’, and who believes that ‘if you know how to manipulate proclamations properly, no one’s guilty, and no one’s innocent’).

180 Note how, for the first time, the judge is calling the plaintiff by her first name, thus treating her as a person.

181 R. Dworkin, ‘Political Judges and the Rule of Law’, in Proceedings of the British Academy (1978) p. 259 at p. 268. For Dworkin, however, the judge is entitled to apply a principle which captures the plaintiff’s moral rights only if that principle does ‘not conflict with [...] any considerable part of the other rules’ [my emphasis]. During the analysis of the case, our judge did encounter various rules which limit social assistance to circumscribed groups of needy people. These rules, taken together, form the bulk of Italian social assistance legislation (with the notable exception of the framework law of Nov. 8, 2000, n. 328: see n. 123 supra). As a consequence, it is not at all certain that Dworkin’s Hercules would have resolved this case in favour of the plaintiff.

182 Is this shift ultimate evidence of the ‘normative power of the field’ upon the judge? Kennedy (1986), supra n. 5, p. 76. On the crucial role of judges’ own morality and conscience for the sound functioning of the Court, see Zagrebelsky, supra n. 26, p. 7, 16.