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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
 
  May 2016
 
  April 2016
 
 
 
 
Legal Trottername

Supreme Courts face defiance, in word and deed

The talk of 'judicial overreach' seems all-pervasive now. Now, the American politicians are also groaning and whining about it. The latest being Newt Gingrich, who went to the extent of saying that he might choose to 'ignore' the Supreme Court, if he disagrees with the apex court.

"This modern model is just totally opposite the American tradition," Gingrich said referring to the judiciary at the Values Voters Summit in Washington , and further added, "I would instruct the national security officials in a Gingrich administration to ignore the Supreme Court on issues of national security."

Gingrich also said that much like President Abraham Lincoln, who was inspired to act against the Dred Scott decision, one of the reasons for his running for the President was the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling of 2002 which held the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. The decision was later overruled. "On the issue of God and American public life, the courts have been historically wrong at least since the 1940s," he said.

Gingrich opined that such problems arose because of the law schools that taught the students a "fundamentally, profoundly, ignorant, anti-American" judicial model. He further remarked that a part of the academic class of America was not in touch with the people and had very poor understanding of the origins of the United States .

Bishop Gandiya Defies Zimbabwe Supreme Court:

While Newt Gingrich is still preparing himself to 'defy' the Supreme Court the Anglican Church's Bishop for Harare, Chad Gandiya, has done better on that count and has gone ahead and actually defied a Supreme Court directive according to which asking for political intervention in a matter pending before the Supreme Court was nothing less than asking the Executive to intervene in the judicial process, which is impermissible.

Bishop Gandiya asked for President Mugabe's intervention in the continuing fight over the ownership of the church's properties. And the Bishop resorted to approaching the President despite a clear warning from the Chief Justice, no less, against seeking political intervention.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausikuhad directed the Registrar of the Supreme Court to write to all the concerned parties warning them against trying to invite political interference, for that amounted to seeking executive interference in the legal processes.

However, Bishop Gandiya, together with his colleagues approached President Mugabe with a dossier that dealt with several issues being contested before the courts. The delegation led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, presented the dossier, which inter alia , said, "We respectfully ask you, as Head of State and of the Executive in Zimbabwe, to put an end to this illegal harassment by some members of the police, whose mandate is to protect civilians and allow us once again to use the properties, which are rightfully ours, so that we may worship God in peace and serve our communities and our country."

The dossier also accused the police of becoming an instrument of 'persecution' saying, "Priests and deacons are arrested without charge on a weekly basis, often on Friday, allowing the police to hold them over the weekend without charge so that they cannot minister to their congregations."

Death for converting to Christianity:

In another part of the world a pastor faces death sentence for deciding to stick to his Christian beliefs and thereby refusing to re-convert to Islam.

This took place in Iran when Youcef Nadarkhani, a 32-year-old pastor, was first rounded up by the authorities in October 2009, and was later prosecuted. The trial concluded in his conviction and he was sentenced to death for converting to Christianity.

However, the Supreme Court came to his rescue and now a re-trial has been ordered inspiring some hope that Nadarkhani would not have let go of his life for not abandoning his faith.

However, while his attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, and religious rights organizations claim that Nadarkhani is facing the possibility of being done to death on account of his religious beliefs, the Iran state media reports that Nadarkhani was found guilty of rape, extortion and offences relating to state security.

However, there have been reports that the case has now been referred to Iran 's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran .

Nadarkhani has been in detention since October 2009, after he protested with the local education authorities against his son's being forced to read from the Koran at school despite being a Christian. His wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, was also put under arrest in June 2010 but released in October 2010, as per Amnesty International.

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