Freedom of Assembly

Course Description: 

State authorities have an obligation to protect and facilitate peaceful assemblies – from populist rallies to Pride parades, from funeral pickets to prayer vigils, and from ‘Critical Mass’ bicycle rides to 'occupations' and temporary encampments. This course will examine the ways in which law both protects and seeks to regulate freedom of assembly – what kinds of assembly are (or ought to be) protected? What kind of regulation is (or might legitimately be) permitted? How should the authorities respond to spontaneous and/or unorganized gatherings, simultaneous meetings and counter-protests, or protests on private property? Through comparative analysis of national and international cases and examples, students will gain a thorough grounding in the core standards governing the legal protection of public protest. Students will also be encouraged to reflect on the values which underlie the protection of this fundamental freedom and the practical challenges that arise in its facilitation.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Ability to think critically at a basic level;

2. Ability to demonstrate substantial understanding ofcore Strasbourg freedom of assembly jurisprudence;

3. Ability to explain the main justifications underlying freedom of assembly, and relate these theoretical arguments to key cases;

4. Ability to demonstrate knowledge of the scope of the right to freedom of assembly;

5. Ability to interrogate case law and distinguish between majority and dissenting judgments;

6. Ability to apply legal knowledge to problem scenarios;

7. Ability to construct well-reasoned and supported legal arguments at a basic level;

8. Ability to critique legislation and to draft legal opinions.


The final grade will be based on a written assignment (40%), and a final examination (60%). In-class participation may also be taken into account where a student obtains a borderline grade. All classes require advance reading and preparation.