The Covid-19 pandemic has given cause for serious restrictions of fundamental liberty rights. In the legal doctrine of fundamental rights, the classical tool for the assessment of the material constitutionality of interferences with fundamental rights is the principle of proportionality. Indeed, the material determinant of the principle of proportionality is the intensity of the intervention in the fundamental right. One preliminary question, however, is often underestimated: the question as to the constitutional status of the interests protected or promoted by the intervening measures. After outlining the structure of the principle of proportionality, this article investigates the constitutional status that the interests protected by Covid-19 measures might have: is the protection of people’s health merely a legitimate purpose or a right? Finally, this article shows, with recourse to decisions of the German and Brazilian Constitutional Courts, the implications that different classifications have for the principle of proportionality.
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