The Fragmented Landscape of Fundamental Rights Protection in Europe
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The Fragmented Landscape of Fundamental Rights Protection in Europe

The Role of Judicial and Non-Judicial Actors

Edited by Lorenza Violini and Antonia Baraggia

The composite nature of the EU constitutional legal framework, and the presence of different rights protection actors within the European landscape, presents a complex and fragmented framework, still in search of a coherent structure. This discerning book provides a comprehensive perspective on fundamental rights protection in Europe, with engaging contributions considering not only the role of judicial actors but also the increasing relevance of non-judicial bodies, including agencies, national human rights institutions, the Venice Commission and equality bodies.
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Chapter 2: Fundamental rights and federalism in the European Union and the United States: Challenges, transformations and normative questions

Federico Fabbrini


The federal system of the United States (US) has long served as a comparative model to the study of the European multilevel system for the protection of fundamental rights. Fundamental rights in Europe are simultaneously protected in the constitutions of the states, in the law of the European Union (EU), as well as in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Moreover, each of these overlapping layers of human rights norms is policed by institutions – particularly courts – which are interconnected but independent. This state of affairs presents analogies with the situation in the US. In the American system, rights are codified in state constitutions as well as in the federal Bill of Rights. Moreover, two connected but separate orders of jurisdictions – state and federal courts – are empowered to enforce the rights enshrined in their respective basic documents. Both the European multilevel human rights architecture and the US federal system, therefore, are structurally characterized by the existence of a plurality of sources and institutions for the protection of fundamental rights, as well as by a plurality of conceptions of what rights ought to be. Despite these similarities, however, the European and American human rights systems are the result of different constitutional experiences and have evolved over a diverse historical time-span. So, what is the added value of comparing the European multilevel human rights architecture with the US federal rights’ regime? Why is it helpful to compare and contrast these two cases? The benefits of a comparative approach in the field

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