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
19 August 2009

Do you support the Constitutional Court?

The text of a declaration I wholeheartedly support. Do you?


Our Constitution is the product of a great struggle for democracy and equality, in which many gave up their lives so that present and future generations of South Africans may have a better life.

In its foundation, the Constitution provided the alternative to civil war. It stands today as a vital guarantor of our individual rights and freedoms against abuses of power.

In its recognition of certain basic socio-economic rights, it provides legal means to support social and political activism, requiring government, now and in future, to proceed progressively to realise the demands of the people for decent health care, education, housing, safety and security, dignity and freedom from poverty. It provides vital means to address the legacy of racial and class-based discrimination and oppression.

With this Constitution, South Africa has been able to hold its head up proudly throughout the world.

Since its establishment, the Constitution – and with it, South Africa – has been well served by the Judges of the Constitutional Court.

While opinions have differed on the interpretation of laws and the merits of cases, integrity has been the hallmark of the work of the Court.

The authority of the Court among the people, its integrity, impartiality and independence from political pressures and executive power, have enabled it during the first 15 years of our democracy to hand down decisions of the utmost importance for vulnerable, poor and marginalised people.

The Court has defended the rights of newborn babies, pregnant women, people without houses, communities without land, pensioners without social grants, women suffering gender-based violence, lesbian and gay people, workers and victims of discrimination in employment and citizenship status.

In the years ahead – and all the more so in harsh economic conditions -impartial and fearless work by the Courts will be crucial in ensuring that the government can and will promote the social justice obligations imposed on it by the Constitution.

No action or judgment of a Court is above scrutiny and principled criticism. Judges who breach the ethics of their office or abuse their judicial powers must be brought to account, however high or low they may be. The object of the JSC complaints process must be to ensure the integrity and independence of the judiciary, so that its necessary authority in the discharge of its public duties can be maintained.

Manipulations and sharp tactics aimed at weakening the Judges in order to advance personal and political ambitions ought to be condemned by the entire people of South Africa. By threatening the independence of the judiciary, those methods threaten us all.

Vusi Nhlapo
Nonkosi Khumalo
Vuyiseka Dubula
Mark Heywood
Teboho Klaas
Noxolo Lobi
Athule Tyelentombi
Atomboxolo Silimeni
Atomboxolo Malengeni
Nombini Zamani
Refuwe Louis
Yoliswa Dwane
Pathixolo Tiko
Zukiswa Vuka
Pierre De Vos
Ann Burroughs
Johann Potgieter
Ahmien Van Der Walt
Pat Craig
Xico Meirelles
Grant Gunston
Kananelo Sexwale
Jennie Pogrund
Wendy Landau
Zani Mazauley
Phumi Mtetwa
Sieraaj Ahmed
Peter Walsh
Thabo Stewart
Sidney Luckett
Bruce Laing
Alive Mpazi
Bave Mpazi
Phatiswa Foloti
Thuliswa Milo
Karen Lotter
Theresa Raizenberg
Lene Øverland
Roberto Millan
Steve Letsike
Moses Masitha
Thoriso M-Afrika
Zelri van der Schyff
Delme Cupido
Deena Bosch
Gugu Dlamini
Emma Peta Holtmann
Stevie Godson
Sandlakazi Mpazi
Nonkosithandile Monakali
Zizipho Nodongwe
Noxolo Labi
Nomvulo Gamedala
Rosemary Lombard
Melanie Motto-Ros
Lubabalo Popo
Warren Tiervlei
Ryan Ross Jales
Nick Groll
Gavin Silber
Louis Fourie
Lukhanyo Mangona
Anjuli Leila Maistry
David Watson
Gabi Richards
Tracy Bailey
Mariette Olwagen
Michael Mbikiwa
Alistair Price
Kirsten Dewar
Wian Jones
Steven Lottering
Jonathan Argent
Zackie Achmat
Nicholas McDiarmid
Sarah Logan
Andries Du Toit
Anso Thom
Gert Ackermann
Dalli Weyers
Bill Rogers
Martin Botha
Meghan Finn
Thandokazi Njamela
Lena Nkonjane
Leduma Goodman Kosi
Andile Ntloko
Siyabulela Kenny Mama
Akhona Siximba
Nolufefe Salman
Busisiwe Quntana
N. Ghomo
Tali Barnett
Shira Copans
Kira Schlesinger
Ugreson Maistry
Shehnaz Cassim
Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge
Gilad Isaacs
Gaby Sanchez
Sharon Gelman
Jennie Pogrund
Tina Espinheira
Julian Simcock
Alana Pugh-Jones
Adila Hassim
Fatima Hassan
Richard Bradstreet
Andrew Ardington
Jonathan Berger
Amílcar Sasha Patel
Emma Julliet Darch
Daniel Barnett
Dustin Kramer
Akhona Bridget Cira
Anco Henning
Nolufefe Salman
Nosandise Chomo
Nosifungo Xabanisa
Nathan Geffen
Doron Isaacs
Fundiswa Nkohliso
Nozuko Mdzelu
Asiphe Mpazi

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