There is much talk about whether the Republicans should try to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of the late Justice Ginsburg. And much of it misses the point.
Leave aside the diversions about not filling vacancies during an election campaign or leaving it to the next president. Justices are appointed through a characteristically American political negotiation between the President and a Senate majority. If by chance they are in strong agreement, then it is nolo contendere.
The Democrats are entitled to be grumpy that the laws of chance have not worked in their favour. But politics does not have much room for ‘our turn now’ arguments, particularly when there is no indication that they would keep playing by the rules.
Continue reading “America’s Supreme Court battle is refreshingly clear and largely predictable” →
The US Supreme Court’s recent decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been discussed mainly in terms of its impact on the Trump administration’s immigration policy. It’s a demonstration of the importance of the court’s role in America’s separation-of-powers regime. And it says something about the current relationship between the law and politics in the US.
The substance of the case concerned one president’s ability (Trump’s) to use his executive powers to roll back another president’s (Obama’s) executive decisions. Continue reading “The US Supreme Court does its bit to make the case for Trump” →
The speed with which US protests over a ghastly death in police custody have morphed into something multi-dimensional and international precludes easy analysis.
But the triggering event, a citizen of a free country dying at the hands of the police is always shocking and invariably depressing. It doesn’t seem to matter much that in this case (and one hopes the next one, because there is likely to be a next one) the authorities are doing the right thing: investigating and, in this instance, deciding that there is evidence to prosecute the policeman. Continue reading “Are America’s troubles part of a pattern or a new twist? A bit of both perhaps “ →
One of the more compelling moments in the Trump impeachment proceedings was Monday’s defence statement by former Solicitor General and federal Court of Appeals judge, Ken Starr. That is Ken Starr, the court-appointed special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton when he was in office, and whose report provided the basis for the unsuccessful attempt to impeach him.
Starr’s role in the current trial – for which he is perhaps uniquely qualified – was to provide a judicial historical perspective.
Nearing the end of what, in less partisan circumstances, would be termed a long and distinguished career, his presentation was more academic colloquium than rigorous interrogation of the facts. One might almost think that he sees his role as an officer of the court, rather than an advocate. Continue reading “Bill Clinton’s nemesis is now defending Donald Trump” →
Eight Queen’s Counsel have been appointed under a process that includes the new criterion of a commitment to improving access to justice, Attorney-General David Parker announced this week.
The new criterion, he explained,
” … emphasises that excellence and leadership in the profession can be seen through a wider, community lens.
“It is pleasing to see the profession is making a good contribution to access to justice.”
At Point of Order, we feel he should have done much more explaining.
What does he mean when he talks of improving access to justice and what have the new QCs done to facilitate this?
We ask because – according to our understanding – anybody can contact a lawyer and make an appointment for advice.
Whether they can afford to do this is a moot point. Continue reading “Eight new Queen’s Counsel are appointed – but must we pay a king’s ransom to pay for their services?” →
When was an official crucifixion or beheading last conducted in this country and – if readers can recall the occasion – what offence had been committed by the person being put to death?
Point of Order asks because:
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed a man by crucifixion in the holy city of Mecca a few months ago, according to a report in Business Insider Australia. Crimes in Saudi Arabia such as homosexuality and attending anti-government rallies have previously led to crucifixion sentences. Unlike the biblical crucifixions carried out by the Romans against Christians in antiquity, Saudi crucifixions usually involve displaying a beheaded corpse in public on a cross.
- NZ’s Justice Minister Andrew Little last week stood before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to confronted criticism made about New Zealand’s human rights record. Saudi Arabia was represented on the panel which considered this country’s performance.
In a fair and decent world, Little should have been demanding the Saudis lift their game in the human rights department. Instead he became alarmingly craven. Continue reading “Little was apologetic about NZ’s justice system – now let’s see if the Saudis crucify us” →
The challenge for Justice Minister Andrew Little, when he faces the UN Human Rights Council, will be keeping a straight face.
This outfit has an august-sounding name. Its membership is a joke.
During his flight to Switzerland to meet the council, Little might care to muse on the Saudi teenager who has been granted asylum in Canada where she arrived amid a diplomatic row between Ottawa and Riyadh over Canadian criticism of Saudi Arabia’s rights record, particularly a recent crackdown on women’s rights activists.
The teenager’s arrival coincided, too, with a deepening of global concern about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an outrage that has drawn attention to the global reach of Saudi Arabia’s leaders.
Little might muse, too, on the antics of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs has taken the lives of thousands in the Philippines and who last year announced plans to create a “death squad” targeting suspected Communist rebels. Continue reading “Try not to laugh when you see who sits on the UN body that will evaluate NZ’s human rights performance” →
Justice Minister Andrew Little, who is in charge of a bill which amends the country’s contempt of court laws, should have a reasonable grasp of the implications for the justice system when news media ignore suppression orders. He should also have a reasonable grasp of how challenging it is to make a suppression order stick – in the internet era – when anything published or broadcast overseas can quickly be recirculated in this country.
But he gave it a go, yesterday, and chided British media for revealing suppressed details from the Grace Millane murder case.
If they want justice for Ms Millane and her family, they should refrain from publishing information, he urged.
Continue reading “Andrew Little sounded a warning about murder-case reporting to local media, too – but were they listening?” →
Justice Minister Andrew Little today welcomed the release of a public consultation paper by the Independent Panel considering the 2014 family justice reforms. So should we all.
The panel is calling for public submissions, inviting everyone with experience of the family justice system to share their stories and have their say about how family justice services can be improved.
Among the changes introduced by Judith Collins as Justice Minister in 2014, mediation was required before parents could apply to the Family Court and lawyers were removed from the early stages of some court proceedings.
The aim was to help people resolve parenting disputes without having to go to court.
She said she expected the caseload would reduce significantly. Continue reading “Family Court: we thought Labour had the answers in 2014 but it now wants more advice” →