Stefania Ninatti

I am Full Professor of Constitutional Law at the School of Law, University of Milano Bicocca, where I have been teaching since 2012. Previously, I taught for several years at the University of Turin, School of Economics. Currently, I teach courses on Public Law, European Constitutional Law, and Religious Pluralism and European Integration. I earned my JD in 1993 and a PhD in Law in 1999 from the University of Milan – my doctoral thesis focused on the Doctrine of Sovereignty within the European Union framework. Prior to this, I spent two years on a research grant at the University of Freiburg, School of Law, Germany.

Since 2018, I am a member of the scientific committee of the University of Milan Bicocca Department of Excellence on Law and Pluralism, dedicated to exploring issues concerning conflict management and diversity within multicultural and multifaith democracies. Among current research, I am part of the Spanish ministerial project “The Importance of the Independence of the Constitutional Court for the Defense of Constitutional Democracy” and the Italian Ministerial project “Boosting Sustainable Religious Pluralism: Public Order and European Constitutional Identity.”

My research interests, publications, and teaching cover diverse areas such as: the democratic principle in domestic constitutional law, comparative public law, and supranational legal orders, the protection of fundamental rights in multi-level systems, the evolution of family law in Europe, and freedom of religion in both Italian and European contexts.

I am one of the five editors-in-chief of “Stato, Chiese e Pluralismo Costituzionale” and I am a member of the editorial boards of “Ius-Publicum Network Review” (USA section) and “Quaderni Costituzionali” (Europe Observatory section). Additionally, I sit on the Scientific Advisory Board of “Pravni Zapisi” (Union University Law School Review) and “PasSaggi Costituzionali.


Research Project

Law, Religion and Distrust. While religious freedom stands as an undisputed asset of European constitutionalism, today it is at the origins of several controversial test cases. A particularly interesting perspective from which to assess the contemporary status of religious freedom is the protection afforded by the European Courts at Strasbourg and Luxembourg. Due in part to the parallelism between the provisions of the ECHR and the CFREU, these two European institutions often end up weaving a joint system of protection to the point that the legal scholars have begun to describe this phenomenon as 'constitutional borrowings'. However, despite this apparent closeness, the standards of protection offered by these Courts can yield markedly different outcomes due to their disparate reference systems. Within this framework, the research will focus on the role played by the margin of appreciation and/or discretion granted to states, which became one of the pivotal principles used by supranational/international courts to fulfill their role as guardians of religious freedom. This analysis will bring light to the special nature of the protection of a fundamental right by a supranational Court, especially in an area where religious matters have traditionally fallen under domestic policy: to what extent is it possible to single out a European specific standard of protection of religious freedom? And, where possible, what are its founding criteria? The choice to focus on the intersections between different legal systems in safeguarding religious freedom - and the attempt to draw boundaries between these spheres of competence in an area guarded by Courts committed to the protection of rights - leads scholars to explore what has been termed the 'encounter of "European" rights with national rights'. Identifying these boundaries, where possible, contributes to a comprehensive picture of the protection of the religious phenomenon in Europe and its member states, thereby highlighting today’s particularly controversial contrasts/clashes.