2

I am a student in a country which was hit quite hard by the pandemic. Currently, we are attending the lessons distantly, yet more and more people reckon it to be a high time to return to school. Let us not get caught up in politics and other off-topic stuff, so my question is: if there is "right to life" in my Motherland's Constitution, does the obligation to attend school during the pandemic violate it?

Note: I am from Russia, yet I would love to hear a story about any country.

3
  • Are you compelled to go tho the school? Are you legally allowed to quit the school?
    – Heng Ye
    Jan 14 at 15:48
  • @HengYe students from the 1<sup>st</sup> to the 9<sup>th</sup> grade are compelled. Students of the 10<sup>th</sup> and 11<sup>th</sup> grades are not. The "right to education" is in our Constitution. Jan 14 at 16:06
  • 1
    The problem with saying "right to life" is you can't really sue once you are dead. Your family might, though... and I suppose they might even win if you were forced to go to a school where their negligence led to your death. (In the USA, I believe they've added protections against lawsuits like this... pork in the spending bill...)
    – pcalkins
    Jan 15 at 18:56
4
+50

There is no clear cross-jurisdictional answer to this question, and answering the question for Russia is extremely difficult for ordinary mortals (ask the Russian version of the ACLU, if there is such a thing). The rights section of the Russian Constitution enumerates rights to life, human dignity, freedom and personal immunity, inviolability of private life, personal and family secrets, the protection of honour and good name, right to determine and indicate nationality, free travel, choice of place of residence, freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, including the right to profess individually or together with other any religion or to profess no religion at all, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious and other views and act according to them, freedom of ideas and speech, etc. etc. including a right to education. I should also point out article 60:

A citizen of the Russian Federation may exercise his or her rights and duties in full from the age of 18

There are also protection requirements: Intellectual property shall be protected by law, dignity shall be protected, idem honour, the "right to protection against unemployment", maternity and childhood, and the family, and so on. There is a potential contradiction between the liberty-type rights and the protections guaranteed in the constitution. Nations differ in how they resolve these contradictions. Sometimes, a nation submits to the authority of a transnational court. Usually, they are resolved on a system-internal basis, by the Supreme Court of the nation, according to principles of legal interpretation adopted by that nation.

In the US, no individual right is absolute: every right can in principle be subordinated to some government interest. We have a concept of strict scrutiny, which limits how governments can infringe on protected rights. Thus you have the right to free speech, but it is limited so that you cannot make death threats because it is a compelling government interest to prevent death threats.

If you were to sue the government for violating your right to life by compelling you to attend school in the age of covid, there are various defenses that the government could offer to justify the education requirement. One is, simply, that those under 18 don't enjoy full rights enumerated for adults, therefore you can be compelled to go to school, in contradiction to the right to freedom of action. School attendance is a "compelling government interest", which can be used to justify infringement of rights. School attendance in the face of covid is not a guaranteed death sentence, but it increases risk of harm somewhat. Serving in the military, which is obligatory (Art. 59) also increases the risk of harm – much more substantially compared to going to school. In the US legal system, there are certain guidelines regarding the balancing act between government interest and individual rights, and yet it is still very hard to predict what government actions will be slapped down vs. sustained by the courts on that basis.

This site is temporarily in read only mode and not accepting new answers.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .