The exceptionality of America’s Supreme Court has long been conventional wisdom. But the United States Supreme Court is no longer the only one changing the landscape of public rights and values. Over the past thirty years, the European Court of Human Rights has developed an ambitious, American-style body of law. Unheralded by the mass press, this obscure tribunal in Strasbourg, France has become, in many ways, the Supreme Court of Europe.
Michael Goldhaber introduces American audiences to the judicial arm of the Council of Europe—a group distinct from the European Union, and much larger—whose mission is centered on interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights. The Council routinely confronts nations over their most culturally-sensitive, hot-button issues. It has stared down France on the issue of Muslim immigration; Ireland on abortion; Greece on Greek Orthodoxy; Turkey on Kurdish separatism; Austria on Nazism; and Britain on gay rights and corporal punishment. And what is most extraordinary is that nations commonly comply.
In the battle for the world’s conscience, Goldhaber shows how the court in Strasbourg may be pulling ahead.