The Law: Speaking Out in Germany

Dissent is essential to an effective judiciary in a democratic society.

—Felix Frankfurter

More than 60% of all U.S. Supreme Court decisions are accompanied by dissenting opinions that routinely flay the majority's reasoning. By contrast, most European nations bar published judicial dissent as a threat to the authority of the law. Nowhere was this insistence on judicial orthodoxy more damaging than in Hitler's Germany, where disapproving judges had no official forum in which to voice their criticism of Nazi law.

Although legislation recently empowered Germany's highest court to publish dissents, the country's courts still tend to maintain the absolutist tradition. So it came as...

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