A point of particular sensitivity is the prospect that the new top court will trump the role of legislators — an accusation frequently made in the U.S. when courts wade into issues like abortion. The U.S. court’s authority grew from a bare outline in the 1789 Constitution. Its role in vetting the laws of the land was asserted famously by Chief Justice John Marshall in his 1803 Marbury v. Madison opinion, and accepted only grudgingly by the executive and legislative branches in succeeding decades.
Peter Goldsmith, a former U.K. attorney general and currently a London-based partner at U.S. law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, is among those who believe that judges of the U.K. Supreme Court could take on an American-style assertiveness. That has “important constitutional implications,” Lord Goldsmith says. “There are some decisions that should be taken at the ballot box and some at the bench, but you should be careful which are which.”
But no worries. The head of the new Supreme Court isn’t concerned.
The head of the new court plays down the idea of a power grab. “I don’t think we’ll get too big for our boots,” says Lord Phillips, in his new office with a view of the Houses of Parliament behind him.
Are Judges capable of not getting too big for their boots? Once they have the power, how can they feel restrained from using it?
Pretty cool picture of their new robes, after the jump. Reminiscent of Chief Justice Rehnquist’s robe after he added those stripes on the sleeve.