Save the Lords!

Any recent developments in the UK with the move to abolish the judicial function of the House of Lords as the tribunal of last resort? I had been following this story with interest until I graduated from law school.

Personally, I don’t see any reason to abolish the House of Lords in favor of a Supreme Court, which is what has been proposed. Absent the power of judicial review, a Supreme Court won’t make much substantive difference over the current position of the House of Lords in giving their “advice” on cases that reach them, while at the same time bowing to Parliamentary Supremacy. It is true that the institution of a Supreme Court might modernize the judicial system and perhaps even introduce some procedural simplifications (I don’t know if that will really be the case), but why abolish hundreds of years of tradition for the sake of some token administrative advantages?

The Lords are part and parcel of English identity. That goes for their judicial function as well. So what if there is an undemocratic element involved in the process of the Lords and in their judicial function? It is nevertheless equitable and well systematized. England leads the world in establishing a humanistic and tolerant society (France fails on that second prong). Why should they not allow themselves an anachronism here or there as a tie to their royal (and indeed noble) past? Why fear Anglo institutions that have perservered and that have undeniably influenced this world for the good? It can plausibly be argued that it is the English and their linguistic posterity that have carried democracy and pragmatic egalitarianism (enter the Americans here) into the world. For that the Brits deserve a little luxurious Lordship.



  1. John, they’re taking nominations for the House of Lords. Sure, you have to be a British (or Irish, or Commonwealth citizen first), but that can be arranged. Here’s your career track: move to the UK and become qualified as a barrister. Take British citizenship. Become a QC. Work at the Old Bailey. Become a Lord. They would love to have a British-American Lord. It would be very cool. Anyway, get the ball < HREF="">rolling here<>. 

    <><><><>Posted by<><> <><>< HREF="" TITLE="ronan at jhu dot edu">Ronan<>


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