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The Forum > Article Comments > Spying an opportunity to entrench power > Comments

Spying an opportunity to entrench power : Comments

By George Williams and Ben Saul, published 31/5/2005

George Williams and Ben Saul query whether ASIO's far-reaching capabilities should be permanent

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What a surprise this piece is! George is more commonly heard not as a critic of "entrenching powers" but as a strong advocate for doing so.

All depends upon which powers you're looking to entrench, I suppose.

Entrenching powers considered attractive by conservatives: bad.

Entrenching powers considered attractive by liberals: good.

Because, as we all know, giving liberal judges extensive discretionary powers to strike down legislation by virtue of a Bill of Rights is so convenient for obviating the tiresome necessity of winning elections!

Thank God that we have the Toy Parliament here in the ACT to keep the constitutional lawyers occupied with a little something while the kids do that politics thing of theirs.

How reassuring it is to live in Australia's most innovative legal jurisdiction. My only complaint is that, unlike the ... ahem ... European Constitution [draft only, it has to be said], we don't guarantee the "physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and women" and the rights of children to "express their views fully".

Seriously, though, the Boston Globe reports on a conference at Yale Law School, where liberal lawyers are considering their options:

"But while there are certainly those on the left who look for inspiration to court rulings like the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision last year on same-sex marriage, there are also those who advocate for a ''popular constitutionalism,'' which seeks to revive the tradition of Jeffersonian democrats and early-20th-century Progressives, who distrusted the power of judges and pushed for legislative victories. In recent years scholars such as Mark Tushnet of Georgetown University and Stanford Law dean Larry D. Kramer have dusted off the argument that, as Felix Frankfurter put it in the 1920s, ''the real battles of liberalism are not won in the Supreme Court.''"

Oh, excuse me. I have a M. Giscard D'Estaing on the line. "Do we have a vacancy in the ACT Human Rights Commission?"
Posted by Geoffrey Hills, Wednesday, 1 June 2005 1:18:11 AM
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