How well can the senior judges control the power of government and protect civil liberties

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How well can the senior judges control the power of government and protect civil liberties (40
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The most important fact about the judiciary is that it is independent and neutral. This means it is able
to control the government. The government cannot put pressure on the judges. It used to be the
case that judges always favoured the power of the state, but now judges are very protective about
human rights and civil liberties. This essay will show how the judges can control government and
protect liberties.
The Human Rights Act means that the government cannot abuse the civil liberties of the citizens. But
how is the HRA to be enforced? The answer is that the judiciary does it. The judges can call for judicial
reviews which will examine whether the government or some other part of the state has abused civil
liberties. The Human Rights Act establishes such rights as the right to life, liberty, family, worship,
thought and association. It also gives us a right to privacy -- one of the issues in the cases that were
brought about injunctions by footballers and other celebrities who believed the press was abusing
their private lives. They were able to persuade the courts to take out injunctions against the
newspapers.
The judges can control government by declaring its actions to be unlawful. They do this because they
are against common law (which is passed down through judicial precedent) or against the statute law
or against the Human Rights Act. The judges can force the government to change its mind and can
overturn any law that offends the Human Rights Act. They declare a ruling of incompatibility. These
cases are often known as ultra vires cases. A good example of this was when Michael Howard was
home secretary in the 1990s and lost 13 cases against him concerning the mistreatment of prisoners.
Judicial reviews are called by judges to decide whether the government has exceeded its powers.
The Belmarsh case showed this when some terrorist suspects were held against their will and
without any trial. This is against the Human Rights Act which says everyone is entitled to a fair trial.
The judges ruled this was unlawful and ordered that the prisoners were released. There was nothing
the government could do and Tony Blair failed to persuade Parliament to pass legislation allowing
the government to keep terrorist suspects under control for long periods in the interests of national
security.
The judiciary is independent of government under the separation of powers. Judges cannot be
sacked and cannot be put under any political pressure to reach a verdict that suits the government.
This means they are well able to control government power, either in important judicial review cases
or in judicial inquiries like the Leveson inquiry or in any other cases where the government is a
defendant. Judges are also neutral so they will not necessarily favour the government that employs
them.
If we are to ask whether the judges can seriously hold government to account and whether they can
successfully protect citizens' rights, the answer has to be that they certainly have several weapons in
their armoury. There is the Human Rights Act, judicial review and common law rights, all of which they
can use to impose their will. In addition they are independent and neutral which means they can act
independently of government and defy it if necessary. Judges have become more and more active
over recent years and have especially used the new Human Rights Act to help in their protection of
rights. All the government can do is to ask Parliament to pass new laws which give it the powers it
needs.

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