Leading German Jurist to Give Human Rights, Democracy Talk


DATE: Friday, September 23

Contact: Ronnie Hess, Director of Communications, Division of International Studies,
UW-Madison, (608) 262-5590, rlhess@wisc.edu

Leading German Jurist to Give Human Rights, Democracy

Madison, WI – Brun-Otto Bryde, judge of the Federal Constitutional
Court of Germany, will deliver the Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy
Lecture at the UW-Madison, Wednesday, October 19 at 3:45 p.m. in the Godfrey & Kahn
Lecture Hall (room 2260) of the UW-Law School, on the UW-Madison campus.

The talk, sponsored by the UW-Madison International Institute in conjunction with the Global Legal Studies Initiative, is named after the UW-Madison alumna executed for her resistance work by the Nazis during World War II, the only
American civilian to suffer that fate. The lecture is designed to promote greater
understanding of human rights and democracy, and to enrich international studies
on the UW-Madison campus. Each year, the Institute invites a distinguished
individual who has contributed to the cause of human rights through scholarship
and research. Past speakers have included Yash Ghai, a leading international
authority on constitutional law and human rights, and José Zalaquett,
one of the leaders of Chile’s Committee for Peace during the Pinochet regime.

Justice Bryde has served on the Federal Constitutional Court, similar to the
U.S. Supreme Court, since 2001. He is a professor of public law and political
science at Justus-Liebig-Universität-Giessen. He has lectured and written
extensively on international and comparative law, and was a visiting professor at the UW-Madison Law School in 1989 and 1994.
Justice Bryde will speak on “Fundamental Rights as Guidelines and Inspiration:
German Constitutionalism in International Perspective.”

Federal Constitutional Court was established in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II and was approved by the occupying powers, including the U.S. Provision for such a court was made in the “Basic (or fundamental) Law,” which was considered more of a provisional charter than a constitution, reflecting the fact that Germany, divided into East and West, was no longer
a single nation-state. The document is now considered one of the most important constitutions in the world.

The high court is not an appeals court but rather a court of judicial review,
able to rule on whether acts by Germany’s three branches of government – legislative,
executive and judicial – are constitutional. The Court’s landmark
Lueth decision of 1958 holds that fundamental rights are “guidelines
and inspiration” for the legal system and that civil law may not contradict
them. In July, 2005, the Court refused to extradite a German citizen of Syrian
origin wanted by Spanish authorities in connection with the Madrid train bombings.
The Court ruled that new European procedures to simplify these kinds of extraditions
violated the rights of Germans citizens.