Joe Atkinson: Parliamentary Intent and the Sewel Convention as a Legislatively Entrenched Political Convention

UK Constitutional Law Association

joe-atkinsonOne interesting finding in Miller is that it appears to recognise the Sewel Convention as a new form of constitutional convention; one that is legislatively entrenched but remains a convention rather than becoming a legal rule.

This aspect of the Court’s judgment raises more questions than it answers. It would have been helpful for them to consider the nature and significance of conventions as constitutional norms that are neither political practice nor legal rule. In respect of the Sewel Convention they arguably should have set out the effect of legislative entrenchment, if any. Furthermore it remains unclear whether the Convention is a “constitutional requirement” for the purposes of Art. 50(1) of the Treaty on European Union.

However, I want to focus here on the narrower issue of the Courts reasoning in determining that the Sewel Convention has not been converted into a legal rule, and particularly the claim that…

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Is the War on Drugs Racist? The Surprising Truth Behind the Black Curtain of History

Zombie Meditations

What about the drug war? The notion that the drug war in particular is especially racist is one that is widely accepted across the whole political spectrum. Michelle Alexander, author of ‘The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness’ writes that “The drug war was motivated by racial politics, not drug crime … [it] was launched as a way of trying to appeal to poor and working class white voters, as a way to say, “We’re going to get tough on them, put them back in their place”—and ‘them’ was not so subtly defined as African–Americans.” Articles in Time Magazine tell us that “black youth are arrested for drug crimes at a rate ten times higher than that of whites. But new research shows that young African Americans are actually less likely to use drugs and less likely to develop substance use disorders, compared to whites….” Even Ron…

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Some Thoughts on Censorship

James Bowden's Blog

Tearing down the statue of George III destroyed monarchy as a form of government everywhere, the world over. Tearing down the statue of George III destroyed monarchy as a form of government everywhere, the world over.

Two years ago, I posted a photo of a coffee mug that bore a text with whose premise I disagree. I found it humourous, but I disagreed with it. I suppose that an activist type might claim to have been “offended” or “triggered” by it. One of my acquaintances reacted in a way that I found odd and surprising: this person suggested that I should have destroyed the mug. First, it was not mine, so destroying someone else’s property at the office probably would not have gone over well. Second, destroying something simply because it symbolizes something with which I disagree would be incredibly puerile, infantile, emotive, and stupid. It would also accomplish nothing. Third, I then came to suspect that this person believed that destroying the object would somehow destroy the…

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Over-egging the costs of smoking and obesity

The Sand Pit

The Herald has published an op-ed I wrote about the costs of obesity.

We’re all going to die. We’re not all going to die tomorrow, although these days it feels like the apocalypse is looming, but it will happen to all of us.

This rather uncomfortable fact often escapes some policymakers and public health experts.

They forget all lives, and indeed all deaths, have a fiscal cost, writes Jenesa Jeram.

I wrote the piece after reading a paper about the net costs of obesity by the Institute of Economic Affairs. I don’t know when it happened, but I’m now the kind of person who gets really excited about these things. This wasn’t just another Cost of Illness (CoI) study, it actually looked at NET costs. There aren’t enough studies like this. As my Herald op-ed notes (in excruciatingly little detail due to word count constraints),  net costs matter because they are the closest…

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