A Supreme Finish

Our final officially scheduled class event was an afternoon here, @the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Established only 9 years ago (previously many of its functions were performed by the Law Lords), the Supreme Court has been the site of two crucial cases related to Brexit, the most important of which happened just a few weeks ago, in late September. After Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament for an unprecedented 5 weeks, the High Court of Scotland ruled the action unconstitutional (on the reasoning that it was a political action intended to keep Parliament from blocking Brexit), while the High Court of England refused to block the action, saying it had no jurisdiction to rule on political matters. Since the two High Courts did not agree, the case went to the Supreme Court to decide. In a case that was a test of its own ambit in a manner similar to Marbury vs Madison for the US Supreme Court, the Supreme Court agreed with Scotland, but falling short of saying that the PM could not prorogue for political reasons (the Court ruled, instead, thath he had been disingenuous in the reasons given the Queen for the prorogation). 

Lady Hale’s succinct and accessible ruling, which garnered a unanimous vote of the large 11 judge panel, has been lauded as one of the most cogent and readable in the Court’s history.

At the Commonwealth Court!

We were able to sit in the very courtroom where that ruling was handed down on 24 Sept, while we learned about UK constitutional law (yes, there IS such a thing), before several of the students were able to go watch Lady Hale herself in a case currently being argued!



About Bethany Barratt

Dr. Barratt earned her PhD from the University of California in 2002, and her BA in Political Science/History from Duke University in 1994. She is Director of the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project, which joins forces with community partners in Chicago and cities abroad to draw and apply comparative lessons to make measurable gains in respect for human rights in urban settings. Professor Barratt has conducted archival and field research in Yellowstone National Park, Central Asia, the UK, Canada, and Australia. She is author or editor of several books including “Human Rights and Foreign Aid” (Routledge, 2007), "The Politics of Harry Potter" (Palgrave McMillan, 2012), and coeditor o "Public Opinion and War: Lessons from Iraq" (Potomac, 2012). She has also authored articles on environmental politics and justice, conservation policy, human rights, foreign aid, US, British, Canadian, and Australian foreign policy, and counterterrorism, in Political Research Quarterly, The Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and edited volumes from Ashgate and Lexington Books. Besides her teaching experience at Roosevelt and the University of California, she has also taught in a number of jails and prisons. She is an officer or member of several scholarly associations including the American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association.
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