Political Constitutionalism and the Human Rights Act
Speaker: Professor Richard Bellamy (UCL, Political Science)
It is sometimes argued that the Human Rights Act (HRA) marks the demise of Britain’s `Political Constitution’. This article argues otherwise. A prime aspect of the political constitutionalist position is that legislatures are better than courts at resolving disagreements about rights and weighing up the considerations needed to deploy and secure them in ways that benefit the public good.
The HRA strengthens this function in many ways, without handing over supremacy for rights adjudication to the courts. Instead, it is argued that the courts can – and in many respects do – operate a system of ‘weak’ review that defers to the legislatine 'scope' determined by Parliament and is restricted to the judicial 'sphere' of the fair conduct of the case at hand. Such 'weak review' has always been necessary. In many respects, the HRA reinforces judicial deference by giving it a stronger statutory basis. As such, the HRA potentially extends rather than undermines political constitutionalism.
The talk will be follow by a comment by Murray Wesson and a public discussion.