An Abortion Law Immune from Constitutional Review?

This is cross-posted from 

In yesterday’s hearing of the Committee on the 8th Amendment to the Constitution talk turned to the idea that a new constitutional provision might be crafted and introduced which would provide that any law on abortion would be immune from constitutional challenge. In his presentation to the Committee, David Kenny made it clear that this was what he took the Citizens’ Assembly to have meant by its recommendation. In my evidence I posited a different interpretation, namely “as a proposal designed to make explicit the power to legislate for abortion to the extent recommended in the legislative proposals made by the Assembly”. On reflection, either understanding is probably sustainable. Reading the transcripts of the Assembly again, I still consider that the concern with ensuring the Oireachtas had “exclusive” competence to make law for abortion was intended to ensure absolute clarity about the power to legislate for the issue, but it could also be interpreted as saying that in doing so the Oireachtas should be empowered to make a law that would be immune from constitutional review. If the latter interpretation were pursued, would this be desirable and what would be the implications? Continue reading An Abortion Law Immune from Constitutional Review?


Evidence to Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment

Yesterday I went to Dublin to contribute to the work of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which is considering the implications of the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly. My written evidence is available here, and the videos of the session can be accessed on the Oireachtas TV stream.

Opportunity for 18-month, full time post-doc position

Together with Jessie Blackbourn of the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, I recently was awarded a grant to pursue an 18-month project on counter-terrorism review in the UK. The project will identify existing knowledge gaps in UK counter-terrorism review, explore the implications and impacts for rights of how counter-terrorism review currently works, and propose reforms based on the findings of this cross-disciplinary research. The project will produce both academic outputs and a stakeholder-oriented report that will outline, justify and contextualise the major policy reform proposals resulting from the research.

We are now hiring a research fellow to be part of the research team. The post-holder will be based in Birmingham, although some national travel will be required. The research fellow will have an excellent grounding in law, counter-terrorism, security, public administration or cognate fields, and a demonstrated ability to work independently to the very highest levels of research excellence. The research fellow will work with the project leaders to develop appropriate methodologies, relationships with stakeholders, and publications from the project that will make both intellectual and practical contributions to the field.

The full details are here and the closing date is 7 July 2017.

Tearing up human rights law won’t protect us from terrorism

Prime minister Theresa May has announced her resolve to tear up human rights law if it prevents her, and her government, from tackling extremism and countering terrorism.

This rhetoric is hardly new. It echoes Tony Blair’s post 9/11 claim that “the rules of the game are changing”. It’s also a continuation of May’s approach as home secretary. Over her term in that role, she systematically sought to dismantle legal barriers to desired government action. Indeed, it chimes well with longstanding concerns on the part of many Conservatives that human rights law is nothing more than an obstacle to security. Continue reading Tearing up human rights law won’t protect us from terrorism