Shelby Wade


In the 2014 monumental court decision S.A.S. v. France, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the French law banning both burqas and niqabs in public spaces was justified. The Court based this justification on the concept of "living together," stating this newly-created concept allowed limitations on certain rights, such as the freedom of religion. With this decision, the Court vacated precedent which used a balancing test to weigh exceptions, such as national security in very narrow situations, against the limitations on individual freedoms. The new "living together" test is extremely farfetched, vague, and controversial. This Note discusses the past precedential balancing test the Court followed prior to the decision in S.A.S., and why it is favored against the new "living together" justification. This Note also examines the potential disastrous impacts on personal freedoms the new test may cause, particularly in reference to new face-covering garment cases which may appear before the European Court of Human Rights.