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Parliamentary Supremacy and the Re-Invigoration of Institutional Dialogue in the UK

By Fergal F. Davis

Abstract

2011 was bookended by two significant speeches on the relationship between Parliament and the judiciary. The first was delivered by Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls; the second by Jonathan Sumption QC—in a final speech before being sworn in as a Justice of the UK Supreme Court. Both speeches were steeped in the traditions of the nineteenth century constitutional theorist, Albert Venn Dicey. Parliament was said to be supreme, although the possibility for dialogue between the courts and the legislature was acknowledged. Inter-nationally such forms of ‘dialogic review ’ have frequently been criticised for morphing into a kind of judicial monologue. However, this article will argue that the recent prisoner disenfranchisement debates demonstrate a renewed will-ingness on the part of the Parliament at Westminster to withstand judicial pressure. While James Madison foresaw competition between the courts, the legislature and the executive—arguing that ‘ambition must be made to counteract ambition’ (Madison, 1788)—senior members of the UK judiciary are retreating from the fray. In April 2011, Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, delivered the second Lord Alexander of Weedon Lecture and in November, Jonathan Sumption QC gave the F.A. Mann Lecture. The latter event took on even greater significance when Lord Sumption was sworn in as a Justice of the UK Supreme Court on 11 January 2012. Both lectures revisited the tension that exists between the ‘notion of supremacy of the democratically elected legislature and the rule o

Year: 2016
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.1000.203
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