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Post by: Nicholas Farnsworth
Bonjour from Strasbourg, France!  My name is Nicholas Farnsworth and I am a rising 2L at Regent Law. This summer, I have the distinct privilege of interning with the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and assisting in their efforts to protect and preserve the fundamental rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (hereafter referred to as the “Convention”). The ECLJ is the European affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) based in Washington, D.C. In addition to conducting legal research on various social, ethical, and political issues and hosting conferences and seminars to promote a Christian legal perspective, the ECLJ also submits “observations” (the equivalent of an amicus curiae brief) on select cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the supranational organ charged with adjudicating disputes under the Convention. This is the assignment I have been working on since arriving here a week ago. 
            Under the European system, citizens who believe their government has violated one of the Convention articles are permitted to bring complaints before the ECHR after having exhausted all available domestic remedies. Thus, on the issues covered explicitly by the Convention: right to life, fair judicial proceedings, respect for private and family life, freedom of expression, conscience, and religion, right to marry and found a family, etc., the ECHR is the tribunal of last resort; its decisions ARE the law in European states party to the Convention, so far as the topics therein are concerned. As a consequence, the Court wields a great deal of power and influence, particularly on matters of moral, social, and ethical significance. This fact, coupled with the predominance of constructivist and pragmatic thinking on the Court, has led to rampant judicial activism and the comprehensive erosion of fundamental principles concerning the individual, the family, and marriage, just to name a few. This is illustrated clearly by our present case, in which the petitioner is a female-to-male transgender person who, despite having carried a child to term, wants to be recognized by the German government as the legal father of the child on the latter’s birth certificate. The objective of the observations we are writing for this case is twofold. One, to remind the Court of its proper adjudicatory limits under the Convention; and two, to demonstrate the inextricable web of legal contradictions a decision in favor of this petitioner would create.                                     
            Despite having spent only a handful of days in the ECLJ office thus far, I have learned an enormous amount about the workings of international law and how the judicial system here differs from that of the United States. Examining the case law of the ECHR and observing the unstable nature of its guiding principles has deepened my appreciation for own Supreme Court, which by comparison is much more ideologically balanced and engages in far greater self-restraint than the ECHR. In addition, I have greatly enjoyed my immersion into the French language and culture and am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in a region of the world that desperately needs the influence of godly leaders. Merci beaucoup et que Dieu vous bénisse!  (Thank you and God Bless!)
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.