Thursday, August 26, 2004

A suitable first case

Huata v. Prebble seems to be an excellent first case for the Supreme Court. Unlike the other cases that have been put to it, it deals with an issue of vital constitutional significance: the relationship between Parliament and the courts.

ACT's case relies on a clause in one of our most fundamental laws, the Bill of Rights 1688, which demands that

the freedome of speech and debates or proceedings in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parlyament

This clause establishes Parliamentary privilege, but it also makes Parliament master of its own affairs. What the court will have to decide is whether who sits in Parliament is part of Parliament's internal affairs, or is an issue of wider public concern. Like the Herald, I hope it chooses the latter path. Our MPs should be chosen by the electorate, not their fellow politicians.