Authors: Joel, Hugh, Ben Lu
Day two started with another glorious continental breakfast. Railway tickets in hand, we met Prof Dr Hans Joachim Cremer, from the University of Mannheim; constitutional guru and all round good guy. After discussing the finer details of articles 1 through to 100 of the German Constitution, we joined Prof Dr Cremer and his assistant to catch a train to the town of Karlsruhe, for a visit to the German Federal Constitutional Court (the Bundesverfassungsgericht). Due to the German law obsession of decentralizing power (and undergoing building renovations), the Court is currently situated deep in the woods, on a former air force base; a location not dissimilar to that of the Blair witch project.
After waiting for one student to pass a body search from the muscly German security (note for next year’s group: remember your passport), we met with Judge Peter M Huber’s clerk. We were shown the judge’s chambers, as well as the finer points of wearing a well cut suit. Judge Huber was kind enough to speak to us about his role on the constitutional court, giving us his observations surrounding the history, development and operation of German constitutional law. We were quite interested to learn the differences between our constitution and the contents and theme of Germany’s, having come off the back of two world wars at the time of drafting. This has lead to an emphasis on the rights of the individual; a contrast that was analysed regarding the way the two nations deal with issues such as asylum seekers.
Throughout the presentation it became clear to us the significance of the German constitutional court, and just how fortunate we were for this intimate discussion; an opportunity that wasn’t wasted, as seen by the abundance of questions.
Judge Peter M Huber (centre) and Prof Dr Cremer (far right) with the students at the German Constitutional Court