Monday, October 24, 2011

Eoin Daly on Judges' Pay Referendum

Eoin Daly (DCU) has a nice piece in the Irish Times today cutting through a lot of the drivel advanced against the pay-cut referendum:
It is normal, in a republic, to expect that the general and equal applicability of legislation should be the norm ...
Popular vigilance, along with law, plays a role in the perpetuation of our democratic constitutional system. This is overlooked by lawyers’ cliched charge of “populism”, which itself betrays a culture of elitist ambivalence to the world of politics.

[The judiciary's] use of an official forum to comment on the merits of a referendum proposal represented an unprecedented invasion of a sphere which under our constitutional system, is reserved to the people and their elected representatives alone though the amendment process. The judiciary has no power or no democratic right to intervene in this process, but worse, the content of the intervention itself was ill-judged because it potentially undermined the public perception of judges as impartial and motivated by the rule of law rather than self-interest.

Judges are normally loath to intervene in questions they perceive as “political”, which made it so unfortunate that the lone amendment on which they officially commented was that which directly affected their personal interests. Yet this extraordinary intervention provoked hardly any reproach in legal and academic circles.

Worth reading in full.