The French judicial system was established by Roman codified law and founded by Napoleon I in 1804 (Aguilera, p. 4). The French Constitution was formally declared on October 4, 1958, under the Fifth Republic. Similar to the United States Constitution, the French Constitution can be amended by the chambers of Parliament or a referendum. The last amendment to the French Constitution took place on July 18, 2008. The revision impacted judicial powers as well as civil rights; it provided the judicial branch a meaningful structure to examine past legislation to verify constitutionality. Within the judicial system there is a Constitutional Council, which operates in a different capacity than other democratic Supreme Courts.
The Constitutional Council interprets the highest French and multinational regulations, and assures the Constitution is upheld. With the examination of Article 55 of the French Constitution, the Council has held that European Treaties are the highest regulations, however, if the Constitution challenges a treaty it will be examined before the treaty is ratified (Aguilera, p. 3). An analysis of the history of human rights and how the French government has interpreted them shows the difficulties that the government faces maintaining a secular nation while still allowing for religious toleration.
On August 26, 1789, the French National Assembly approved the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which states, “The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man…” (Declaration of the, 2008). Within the declaration there are 17 articles providing protection to man from equal rights through property rights. However, the declaration was recalled in 1958, when the Fifth Republic was founded by Charles de Gaulle. Two years later, in 1960, the Fifth Republic would ratify the European Convention on Human Rights; in 2000 they would ratify the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union ("Council of Europe," 2014).
In 1998, the European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) were merged to handle the ever-growing caseload upon the Court. The ECHR is an international court system based on the European Convention on Human Rights, which was established within the Council of Europe. There are currently 47 member countries who all abide by these conventions, constructed within the context of the Council of Europe, in order to protect human right violations such as torture, racism, social rights (including religion), minorities, and human trafficking. Any case alleging that a member state has violated any civil or political right that is protected by the conventions, can be submitted to the Court by any individual, group of individuals, or...