Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Politics of Justice, US Style

Lord Phillips may be concerned about his lack of judicial independence under the current funding and structure of the Supreme Court in the UK, but the legendarily independent US Supreme Court is also facing scrutiny. Or at least, one of its justices is. Clarence Thomas was always a controversial appointment as a very conservative justice beloved of the Republican movement. His wife, a former Tea Party group founder, is now a political lobbyist, and Democrat representatives in Congress are asking the good Justice to recuse himself (step down from) from deliberations on the constitutionality of the national healthcare bill on the grounds of possible conflict of interest. This is becoming a thoroughly political issue, as a Republican senator has also suggested that Obama's newest appointment, former Solicitor General Elena Kagan, should also recuse herself from the same issue because of her former government position.

Lord Phillips should cast a wary eye towards Washington, and perhaps thank his stars that his job isn't quite as politicised as his American counterparts, for all their vaunted independence, just yet.

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