Monday, November 21, 2022

A victory for democracy!


Today, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Make it 16 Inc v AG, declaring that the law forbidding 16 and 17 year olds from voting was inconsistent with the right to be free from discrimination, and that it had not been justified under the BORA. Its a massive victory for Make It 16, who have fought hard on this issue and pushed it all the way to the Supreme Court, and for the Bill of Rights Act. The government has not been allowed to get away with not bothering to justify discriminatory provisions, or with arguments that it should be immune from scrutiny. Faced with an argument that the voting age was a constitutional issue and that the court should not intervene, the court applied the constitution.

Unfortunately, fixing it will still require a law change, and that law will need a supermajority to pass. The moral and legal argument for change is insurmountable. But it could still not happen because the National Party decides to be dicks and refuses to accept our constitution.

...which will cause further problems. Because this is also going to be the first test of Parliament's new declaration of inconsistency procedures, which were passed earlier in the year. The Attorney-General is going to have to notify the House of the ruling, and the Minister of Justice is going to have to report back on what the government intends to do about it. And if their response is anything other than "immediate and urgent legislation to apply the ruling and allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the 2023 election", Parliament is going to be seen to have failed to protect our human rights again, and the pressure is going to go back on to strengthen the pissweak law they passed, take power from the politicians who refuse to do their constitutional duty, and give it to the courts (who clearly will).