Regulating the Pandemic through Criminal Law: Implementation of Social Blame and the role of Judicial Control

From the very beginning of Covid-19 pandemic, Italian government, invested with law-making powers, made intense use of criminal law for the containment of the infection. The attitude to use punitive power as the main tool to face emergency, in contrast with the extrema ratio principle, reached its climax with the pandemic but – indeed – is not new in the Italian context. Criminalization, being the strongest reaction of the legal system to unwanted behaviours of citizens, has become an ordinary way to express not only social but also moral blame against the violation of the rules of conduct that regulate emergency. However, this “re-moralization” trend of criminal sanctions in emergency times, with its implicit authoritarian tendency, finds a limit in the judiciary. Thus, the liberal-democratic order can be reaffirmed through the operativity of judicial control, being a mechanism of check and balances in the constitutional system.