Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
2 April 2012

There is something surreal, absurd even, about the US supreme court’s recent three-day hearings on President Obama’s healthcare law. In essence, nine people, all appointed by presidents of the United States and not elected by nor accountable to the American people, will have the power, come June, to determine whether the president’s landmark 2010 legislation will stand as is, be ruled unconstitutional and done away with entirely, or be ruled unconstitutional in part and so be hobbled and in doubt. It is surreal and absurd that we are even having this conversation again, given that the crux of the matter is that 50 million Americans do not have health insurance. Wasn’t the point to make sure the richest and most powerful nation on the planet could protect its own people, as other nations do, including Canada, our neighbor to the north? – Kevin Powell on The Guardian website.

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