Editorial: Let the Supreme Court stand alone

Share
Related Topics

Since the Supreme Court opened for business three years ago, with its premises outside the precincts of Parliament, there has been a widespread impression that the UK now had a system with complete separation of powers, similar to that in the United States. In fact, though, the links between the legislature and the executive, on the one hand, and the judiciary, on the other, were not entirely severed.

As we have been reminded this week, the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor – the job currently held by Chris Grayling – retains the power to appoint the court's chief executive and other administrative officers. And as we also learnt, this is not to the judges' liking.

In a proposed amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill, which had its third reading in the House of Lords yesterday, the former president of the Supreme Court, Lord Phillips, is trying to change this. He wants responsibility for these appointments to be transferred to the court's sitting president, a position that his successor, Lord Neuberger, supports. The immediate practical argument is that the judges on the spot appreciate the court's needs better than ministers, whose priorities might be different.

A further argument is that the chief executive would then owe his or her loyalty unambiguously to the court, rather than to the government of the day. And the conclusion must be that, so long as the current system operates, the appearance of Supreme Court independence does not fully match the reality.

Lord Phillips, who quite properly waited until he retired from the court to press for this change, should be heeded. The creation of the Supreme Court represented a decisive move towards the separation of constitutional powers, and that process should be completed. Having avoided the chief downside of the US system – the highly politicised nature of the Supreme Court justices, whose appointment is in the gift of the President – the UK's highest court should be allowed to capitalise on its success so far and break this last government link.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ian Paisley used to pick out journalists in his congregation  

The Only Way is Ethics: Ian Paisley is rightly remembered for his intransigence

Will Gore
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam