Theresa May’s case for withdrawal from the ECHR: Politically astute, legally dubious, constitutionally naïve

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has argued in a speech staking out her position on Brexit that, although she is in favour of the UK’s remaining in the European Union, it should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The purpose of this post is not to address the arguments for or against withdrawal. Rather, it engages with the quality of the Home Secretary’s underlying arguments. It concludes that however politically savvy May’s position might be, it does not withstand analysis. In particular, it turns upon legally specious distinctions between the EU and ECHR legal regimes, and is … Continue reading Theresa May’s case for withdrawal from the ECHR: Politically astute, legally dubious, constitutionally naïve

The UK Supreme Court as a constitutional ‘longstop’: Michael Gove’s evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee

The Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, gave evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee earlier today. In this brief post, I pick up on just one of the issues raised by his evidence, namely the notion that the UK Supreme Court might be made, by a British Bill of Rights, into what Gove called a ‘constitutional longstop’ court—a constitutional court, in other words. This builds to some extent on the ill-defined notion, advanced by Gove’s predecessor, Chris Grayling, of ‘making the UK Supreme Court supreme’. However, I have pointed out before that this notion was always more about … Continue reading The UK Supreme Court as a constitutional ‘longstop’: Michael Gove’s evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee

Philippe Sands’ Elson Lecture: Britain, Europe and Human Rights

I briefly wrote yesterday about John Finnis’ recent lecture on judicial power. Although Finnis examines his topic through a lens that takes in far more than simply questions about human-rights protection, some of his fire is trained upon the European Convention on Human Rights and what it requires, or has been understood to require, courts to do. Indeed, by arguing that it is not wise to require or permit judges to exercise the essentially non-judicial responsibility of overriding or even of condemning legislation for its not being “necessary”, or for its “disproportionality”, relative to open-ended rights and the needs of a … Continue reading Philippe Sands’ Elson Lecture: Britain, Europe and Human Rights

RightsInfo: What are Human Rights?

RightsInfo, which is setting a very high bar indeed in terms of the visual explanation of human-rights-related issues, has just launched an excellent two-minute animation on human-rights basics. If you want to know what human rights are and are looking for an accessible way in, it’s a great starting-point. Of course, the points made in the animation don’t establish that the principal texts to which it refers — the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998 — are perfect. Nor does the animation (in my view at least) deliver a knock-out argument against the repeal of the … Continue reading RightsInfo: What are Human Rights?

Public Law Update #6: A British Bill of Rights?

This post is the last in a series of six updates for the 2015-16 academic year. The posts in this series are co-written by Mark Elliott and Robert Thomas, the authors of Public Law, published by Oxford University Press. Further information about Public Law can be found here. Our focus in these updates is on six key areas in which the constitution is undergoing, or is likely to undergo, change. We have taken as our reference point the outcome of the 2015 general election, and its likely implications for the future of the British constitution. In this final post in the series, we examine the Government’s proposals (such as they are … Continue reading Public Law Update #6: A British Bill of Rights?

Michael Gove, the Justice Committee and the Human Rights Act

The new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove, gave evidence for the first time today to the House of Commons Justice Committee. We learned a little, but not a great deal, about the Government’s current thinking in relation to the replacement of the Human Rights Act 1998 with a British Bill of Rights. However, five points made by Gove are worth noting. First, he signalled that “proposals” will be published “in the autumn”. However, it is not clear from what Gove told the Committee whether those proposals will (in the first instance) be accompanied by a draft Bill. Second, … Continue reading Michael Gove, the Justice Committee and the Human Rights Act

RightsInfo: 50 human-rights cases that transformed Britain

I wrote in April about the launch of RightsInfo, a new initiative from Adam Wagner, the founding editor of the UK Human Rights Blog. Following a crowdsourcing project (to which I contributed), RightsInfo has now published its full set of “50 human-rights cases that transformed Britain”, accompanied by a fantastic infographic that enables readers to dip into and find out more about those cases. Continue reading “RightsInfo: 50 human-rights cases that transformed Britain”