“Democracies facing Covid”: when the health crisis restricts public freedoms

Book. Because the journal blog Juice Politicum has established itself as an essential space for reflection on constitutional law, it now has a “paper” extension: the Editions Panthéon-Assas have brought together in a book of nearly 300 pages, Democracies in the face of Covidthe posts published in 2020-2022 in this space which, like the electronic journal of the same name, is intended to be a “place of dialogue between jurists, philosophers, historians and political scientists”. Directed by Denis Baranger, Olivier Beaud and Cécile Guérin-Bargues, the book explores the way in which Covid-19 has transformed, from 2020, the positive law of democracies.

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From the analysis of the law on the state of health emergency to the“hyperactivity” of the Defense Council, from the study of appeals before the Court of Justice of the Republic to questions about the investigative powers of the Covid Information Mission, the “surprising” invocation of article 16 on the exceptional powers of the president during the postponement of the municipal elections to the “curious” suspension of the deadlines for examining priority questions of constitutionality, the book analyzes with precision and rigor the multiple legal facets of the global health crisis.

The same drift abroad

The landscape drawn by these experts is hardly reassuring. THE “politico-institutional treatment of the pandemic”write Olivier Beaud and Cécile Guérin-Bargues in the foreword to the book, acted as a ” magnifying mirror “ by accentuating, sometimes to the point of caricature, the imbalances of the Ve Republic. The fight against the pandemic has indeed been accompanied by a strengthening of the primacy of the Head of State, a relegation to the background of Parliament and a weakening of judicial controls. “Constitutional law has been put at the service of the power of the State”, analyze the two lawyers.

France is no exception: the blog posts of Juice Politicum devoted to the Italian, German, Portuguese, Belgian, British, Austrian, Chilean and American situation show that the same drift has occurred abroad. If the legal tools have varied, they have nurtured, throughout the world, a limitation ” drastic “ fundamental freedoms. “Undoubtedly the judicial protection of fundamental rights has held up better here than there – in Germany than in France, for example – but the differences can only be discerned at the margins”note Olivier Beaud and Cécile Guérin-Bargues.

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