Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, May 07, 2004

Janet Albrechtsen reminds us of the artful side of judicial activism, the side that makes its supporters swoon in the lecture halls:

The common law is like soft clay in their hands, moulded not by precedent or principle but by their own judicial creativity. Legislation is conveniently found to be ambiguous, inviting judicially inspired interpretations that bear little resemblance to parliament's intent. Theirs is a papier-mache constitution where new rights are glued on according to judicial whim. And their novel pronouncements are painted over and paraded liked works of art.

Reader GK reports hearing the more aggressive side of the judicial power grab on Auntie's news service in Queensland yesterday:

This morning's ABC news at 7 o'clock featured a report of a judge deploring a sentence she was required to impose on a convicted people smuggler. According to the news reporter the judge said that but for the mandatory requirements of the relevant legislation she would have imposed a lesser sentence, or even a non-custodial sentence, on the defendant. The defendant's lawyer was then given the opportunity to speak. I can't quote him verbatim, but it was something like, "It
shows you how unfair it is, when parliament interferes like this and you get these ridiculous results."

"Next thing you know," says GK, "parliamentarians will think that's what they were elected to do."

Dangerous people Parliamentarians. Like the people who elect them.