21 October 2010
Courts as Defenders of Freedom? - Don't bet on it!
Whatever one's opinion about smoking, one should let those who enjoy a puff on a cigarette have their pleasure. Intelligent adults are (hopefully) aware of the dangers of inhaling tobacco smoke. The vendetta against smoking has taken on the character of a quasi-religious crusade during the past years. Legislation has been passed in many countries that reflects this overzealous attitude. We see no reason why it should not be allowed to smoke in places that are clearly designated as smoking zones. People then have the clear option to live and work in these places - according to their own individual judgement about the risk involved. So one would hope that courts are able to protect the individual citizen's right to make this decision. But the decision of Germany's Constitutional Court is a slap in the face of all independently minded people. Yesterday's judgement reinforces Bavaria's rigid anti-smoking legislation by prohibiting even the use of water-pipes in a Turkish-themed restaurant. Separation of Power is a long way from being a reality when politicians can appoint judges at will and the judiciary is not under the slightest form of democratic control.