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A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights$
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George Letsas

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203437

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203437.001.0001

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Public Morals, Consensus, and Rights Inflation: A Critique

Public Morals, Consensus, and Rights Inflation: A Critique

(p.120) 6 Public Morals, Consensus, and Rights Inflation: A Critique
A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights

George Letsas

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at three areas of the European Court's case law in which the structural concept of the margin of appreciation has been used. The first includes cases in which the European Court has interpreted public morals as a justified ground for restricting rights, balancing the applicant's right against conventional morality. The second includes cases in which the Court refrained from finding a violation, on the grounds that the legal issue before it is either politically sensitive at domestic level or controversial amongst contracting states. The third area refers to cases where the Court took protection of welfare interests, like the interest in sleep, to fall within the ambit of the ECHR, asking itself whether interference with these rights has been proportionate. It is argued that the Court's reasoning in these three strands of the case law is not supported by liberal egalitarian principles upon which the ECHR rights are founded.

Keywords:   public morals, consensus, inflation of rights, consequentialism, moralism

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