Reply to post: Worrying - I agree with an American politician!

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Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

Worrying - I agree with an American politician!

""Britain is our ally," complained House rep Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) "but they don't have a first amendment. They don't protect freedom of speech. They don't have judicial review. They don't have probable cause. Britain is moving away from basic [rights] and it's cause for grave concern in this country.""

Taking it step by step:

a) First Amendment - No, Britain doesn't have a first amendment because we don't have a proper constitution. All this pissing about with the EU is pointless, because the most important thing Britain needs is a written constitution that sets out the relationship between the individual and the State (see more on this further down).

b) Freedom of Speech - The courts do protect freedom of speech, and they did even before the European Convention on Human Rights made it clear. However, it seems half-hearted because of the terrible libel laws we have.

c) Judicial Review - I thought he was wrong on this, because of course there is judicial review here. However, what I think he means is that, because of the stupidity of the doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy - a hang-over from feudalism - there is no judicial review of primary statutes. One of the things that should be included in a written constitution is that the courts have an important role in determining the constitutionality of Acts of Parliament. However, since the main gripe of the "leave the EU" lot is that there is someone with power to look over Parliament's shoulder and make tutting noises (really, that's all the ECHR/CJEU can do), then there is almost no chance of the legislature being meaningfully balanced by the judiciary (in classical constitutional theory, the executive is included in the balance, but it isn't really in Britain because the executive is made up from the legislature).

d) Probable Cause He is right - there is no equivalent of probable cause in Britain, and it is needed. However, it would need to be differently applied than in the US, since it seems to be lip-service a lot of the time over there.

e) Britain is moving away from basic rights - oh yes! If the "outers" get their way, it will move even further away so fast the red-shift will be visible to the naked eye. Why do you think they want to be removed from the beady eye of courts with some small jurisdiction over them - it isn't so ordinary people can have any more power.*

Now, I know that it seems a bit rich that a politician from a country with discernible red-shift away from basic rights has said these things, but they are true.

* Yes, I know that the EU and the ECHR are different things, but the EU is the one with some small ability to enforce it's decisions through fines. Findings of breach of the ECHR are merely that.

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