In 2002, an animal protection clause was added to Article 20a of the German Constitution. Designed as a state objective, the nature of the animal protection clause decidedly influences its application. As a state objective, it is directed at all three branches of government, and each branch must ensure within its sphere of competence the realization of the stated goal. The Federal Constitutional Court has yet to address the precise scope of the provision.
This Article examines the likely future effects of the animal protection clause. With respect to the legislative branch, this Article addresses the question of whether the state objective demands that a standing provision be created for animal protection groups. With respect to the judicial and executive branches, this Article focuses on three fundamental rights that are most likely to come into conflict with animal protection: freedom of religion; freedom of teaching, science, and research; and freedom of artistic expression.
Seismic shifts in constitutional adjudication are not likely to be expected. The provision does not give rights to animals. However, at a minimum, it prohibits circumventing the Animal Protection Act by construing that statute in light of the Constitution. The animal protection clause removed the disproportionality between certain fundamental rights and the interest in animal protection. It mandates a balancing of constitutional interests and eliminates doubts regarding the constitutionality of the Animal Protection Act, especially with respect to the fundamental rights discussed.