Why was the Supreme Court built in 2010 and how effective has it been at upholding civil liberties?
The Supreme Court was introduced in 2010 as a replacement for the House of Lords as the top law court of justice in the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland. This court has cost approximately 59 million pounds to build and was officially open on 1st October 2009. The enactment of the Supreme Court came about under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (The Supreme Court [Online], 2010) and currently stands as the chief justice in the UK.
The main focus of this essay is to examine how The Supreme Court prioritises in the development of the United Kingdom Law thus playing an important task at maintaining fundamental individual rights.
Being the most prominent judiciary in the UK, it is also vital to see the difference between The Supreme Court and the previous House of Lords Committee in which The Supreme Court has replaced. The major differences are visible in terms of power and the impact it has on the British Constitution. The main reason The Supreme Court was built is due to the Government’s decision on separating the judicial making functions and the legislative duty of the House of Lords, making this the last step in separation of powers. Lord Philip, 2009) stated that it has come to a situation where the adjudicator are absolutely separated from the Legislature and Parliament. (Raynsford, 2010) claimed that it was right for the Prime Minister, prior consultation from the Parliament, to relocate the Ultimate Court of Appeal (The Supreme Court) from the House of Lords as to avoid confusion between the role of the House of Lords and the role of the Court of Appeal.
In addition, this separation of power avoids the judiciary from holding absolute power, thus discouraging corruption and bias from the judiciary through politics and media. (Casciani, 2010) stated that after the running of the Supreme Court, 12 Law chancellor from the House of Lords who were hearing appeals in the Parliament is now the Justices of the Supreme Court and are no more partaking in the House of Lord’s affair. Before the enactment of the Supreme Court, senior judges that are currently in the House of Lords were nlightened to apprehend cases that are of great significant to the public and constitution inside the House of Lords itself (The Supreme Court [Online], 2010). They were eligible to vote for the outcome of the cases and sometimes, if any, would have a major relation to personal political interest.
However, with a new key reform in place, Parliament will be responsible for making law on favour of the electorate whilst the judges from the Supreme Court focus on the fairness of the new law when applied to cases (BBC News, 2010). Lord Falconer, 2009) suggested that this new reform would strengthen the judiciary, making it possible for the judiciary to go against the executive’s decisions (Prime Minister and his Cabinet) Moreover, a leading judge has told BBC that Britain’s Supreme Court could be more authoritative than the House of Lords department and Lord Neuberger anticipate that the new court of appeal could hold more power than the government (Rozenberg, 2009). It is believed that the judgment of the justices from the Supreme Court will affect the decisions in the lower courts which, in this case, apply to all the courts in the UK (BBC News, 2010).
The Supreme Court also emphasise on corruption issues involving governing authorities in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, making sure that they abide and commit within the powers granted to them or whether they successfully complete the duty given to the authoritative government in each state. Lord Neuberger argued that there is a real danger that judges will seize more power than what they currently have (Rozenberg, 2009). Therefore, it is likely that the Supreme Court operates the way the United State’s Supreme Court functions which, upon the Court’s decisions, bind every local law in individual states.
For instance, if The Supreme Court decides to change the laws in London (the Capital city), other cities have to follow. (Lord Philips, 2009) stated that such situation is ‘possible’ but is ‘not probable’. However, although the Supreme Court has shown many advantages so far in America, criticisms have arisen on the decisions made by the Supreme Court claiming that it weakens the Court as an institution where the institution is the ultimate guardian under the Constitution of the rights and liberties (Fraenkel, 1960).
Lord Phillips who has commented on various contentious subjects in the past states that there was no reason to why Sharia law could not be used to resolve disputes amongst Muslims provided that the sanctions complied with the laws of England and Wales. Furthermore, he openly defended the Human Rights Act, calling it “a crucial constituent of the basic of our fight against terrorism” and was responsible for handing down the judgement requiring the Director of Public Prosecutions to clarify with certainty the law on assisted suicide (Mitchell, 2011).
Lord Phillips added that the decree of the Human Rights Act by the previous administration was an absolute contribution to the maintenance of the rule of law in this country and one for which it deserves great credit (Rothwell, 2010). The Human Rights Act 1998 has played its part since the World War on protecting civil rights and allowing immigrants into the UK where Human Rights are not considered vital in their own country. (Lord Philips, 2009) emphasised on the importance of Human Rights, claiming that the rise and support of terrorism lies in the feelings of discrimination in individuals.
Therefore, the need to protect every individual’s family members from discrimination in their foster country is vital. However, Charles Clarke criticised the Supreme Court, claiming that the judiciary do not hold inconsiderable accountability for defending the public and occasionally ignorant about their decisions on how it would affect the public society (Rothwell, 2010). Lord Philips defended the liberty of The Supreme Court stating that the judiciary is only responsible for applying the laws that have been constitute by Parliament, not creating it (Rothwell, 2010).
Another case reported in BBC news where the Supreme Court is proven to be effective in its duty to defend individual rights is shown when two homosexual men who said they faced persecution in their homeland have the right to asylum in the UK as ruled by the Supreme Court. According to the judgment made by Lord Hope in the case, to restrain a homosexual person to act that his state does not suppress the attitude by which to distinct itself is to deny his domestic right to be who he is hence homosexuals are as much entitled to the freedom which are given to the people who are traight (BBC, 2010). Ultimately, this essay has thoroughly examined the historic foundation of The Supreme Court, its motive to why the government took a stand on separating the Court of Appeal (The Supreme Court) from the House of Lords as well as the colossal impact it has ranging from the public society to the British Constitution. Even though the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, some disadvantages should be considered such as one stated by Charles Clarke, the previous Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords, claiming that the judiciary does not consider the public’s well being.
I am very conscious that I have failed to spot on a few vital and intriguing points and other matters on this subject. The Supreme Court is credibly to be not perfect and widely opens itself to criticism, Although the Supreme Court is new (2010) it may seem to remain as the highest court of appeal for all UK’s domestic cases and criminal cases from Wales, Northern Ireland and England, flourishing as the top court in the UK and uphold its liberty as the forefront in the case law world (The Supreme Court, 2010).
* Casciani, D., 2010. Supreme Court quashes Treasury terror assets order. [Online] Available at: < http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8482630.stm> Assessed on May 1st 2011
* Fraenkel, O.S., 1960. The Supreme Court and Civil Liberties: How the Court has protected the Bill of Rights. p.4.
* Mitchell, N., 2011. Pen Portraits – Lord Phillips. UKSC Blog. [Online] Available at: < http://ukscblog.com/pen-portraits-lord-phillips> Assessed on May 1st 2011
* Raynsford, N, 2009. Creation of the Supreme Court [Online] Available at: < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ojsQA2W81I> Assessed on May 2nd 2011
* Rothwell, R., 2010. Lord Phillips defends Human Rights Act. Law Society
* Rozenberg, J., 2009. Fear over Supreme Court impact. BBC News UK. [Online] Available at: < http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8237855.stm> Assessed on May 2nd 2011
* Supreme Court, 2010. Gay asylum seekers from Iran and Cameroon win appeal. BBC News UK. [Online] Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10180564> Assessed on May 4th 2011
* Supreme Court, 2010. Role of the Supreme Court, [Online] Available at: < http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/about/role-of-the-supreme-court.html> Assessed on May 4th 2011