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Marius BALAN: Symbolic Expression of the State

Abstract:  State symbols confer a sentiment of community on the society and fulfil simultaneously a regulating function within the political community. By deep rooted and generally revered national symbols, the chances of promoting citizens voluntary identification with the political and constitutional aims and values of the state are considerably enhanced. The defence of state symbols by criminalizing acts expressing contempt upon such symbols raises the issue of encroaching on the freedom of speech and/or the artistic freedom. With the help of an analysis of some relevant cases decided by the US Supreme Court and the German Federal Constitutional Court, this paper argues that the judgment on the constitutionality of protective measures regarding state symbols relies upon an implicit presupposition concerning a self-evident diagnosis of the internal political situation and the confidence in the endurance of the constitutional order. 

Keywords: state symbols; artistic freedom; freedom of speech; political integration; U.S. Supreme Court; German Federal Constitutional Court

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