As Guido reported, last week the head of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale – who a fortnight ago ruled that Boris’s prorogation was unlawful – took a deliberate dig at the PM during a speech. This poorly-disguised political move perhaps shouldn’t have come as a surprise to followers of Hale’s past interventions since she has always found it difficult to adhere to neutrality of the judiciary. She is the supreme courter of controversy…
The prorogation case brought forward by Gina Miller wasn’t Hale’s first Brexit intervention, she caused outrage in 2016 after a speech in which she addressed whether the Government had the executive power to trigger Article 50:
“Another question is whether it would be enough for a simple act of parliament to authorise the government to give notice, or whether it would have to be a comprehensive replacement of the 1972 act [the European Communities Act].”
In response to the speech, leading Brexiteers such as Iain Duncan Smith said Hale shouldn’t be telling “parliament how they should go about that business” and Melanie Phillips accused the top judge – not then head of the Supreme Court – of having “thrown a judicial hand grenade” into the Brexit issue.
Hale’s political interventions haven’t been limited to Brexit, however. Perhaps her most controversial moment came when she went out of her way to attack legislation still making its way through parliament, saying the ‘Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill’ was “threatening”; a move that even the Law Society Gazette described as “constitutionally unusual”.
The President of the Supreme Court has also actively lobbied for certain policies, including explicitly declaring that Ireland repealing their 8th Amendment was a “reason to be cheerful” (rather than the more conventional non-political statement you would expect from such a senior judge). In a similar vein, Hale also publically lobbied for changes to divorce laws last year – whilst still president. Hale is of course entitled to her views, but it is worrying that a senior sitting judge feels able to so openly advocate her view on such a controversial issue in public…
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