International court legitimacy and national identity: Lautsi as a case study

International and constitutional lawyers became interested in international court (IC) legitimacy. Many, however, focus on normative sides of legitimacy (transparency, quality of reasoning) and somehow assume that people will appreciate these normative commitments and grant them with sociological legitimacy.
To challenge this view, I do a thick description of the social reactions to the Lautsi ruling (ECHR), which ordered the removal of crucifixes from Italian schools. I will argue that most Italians rejected its legitimacy as law, finding it completely alien to national narratives and identity. Also, that the few Italians that supported the ruling did so appealing to national narratives (such as State secularism and independence from the Vatican) that were divorced from the ECHR’s own language.
Generalizing from this case, I suggest that, in salient cases, the limits of IC legitimacy rely on how well they allow to be appropriated by national narratives concerning people’s identity.