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
10 November 2006

Weird Civil Union compromise

The compromise Civil Union Bill, devised by the ANC study group and approved by the Home Affairs Porfolio Committee yesterday, is a weird piece of legislation. It creates a Civil Union open to anyone which can be “registered by way of either marriage or a civil partnership”.

This means that heterosexuals will be able to get married either via the Marraige Act or the Civil Union Bill while homosexuals can only get married via th elatter legislation. But for anyone who, for some bizarre reason or another, wishes not to get married but to conclude a civil partnership only, the Civil Union Bill will be the only legislation that one could rely on.

Obviously those in the ANC who wanted to adhere to the Constitutional Court judgement and who understood that anything less than marriage for same-sex couples would not do, managed to convince the Johnny De Lange’s of the world to explicitly provide for “marriage” in the Bill. But in return they had to the ridiculous option of either registering a civil partnership or a marriage.

How many people will actually register a civil partnership instead of a marriage? Can’t imagine who would do such a thing.

But perhaps the new version will pass constitutional muster because it does provide for same-sex marriage, albeit in a seperate law. But because the law is open to all – not just same-sex couples, and because it allows same-sex couples to register a marriage, it probably provide for the protection of same-sex relationship in a sufficient manner.

Section 6, however, is most probably unconstitututional. It allows non-religious marraige officers from refusing to solmnisise a marriage for religious reasons. Poor same-sex couples in small conservative towns will find it difficult to get anyone to marry them. Surely its not acceptable.

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