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  • 16 Jul 2010

    Mhmmmm.... Interesting times ahead?

    It is only a rumour, but for the third time in the past twenty four hours I've heard the same one: that the President is going to refer the Civil Partnership Bill to the Supreme Court on the basis that it may be constitutionally unsound. Mary is of course supportive of gay rights, but it is her constitutional duty to do so if she has any concerns about the constitutionality of any bill brought to her to sign. 

    I stress that this is just rumour, and you know what this small country is like for rumours! So we'll just have to wait and see. If it does turn out to be true, I guess there are two ways (at least!) of looking at it. In the short term, it would certainly be a set-back. But, in the longer term, it could be argued that it might be a quicker route to full marriage equality, as the head of steam that has built up behind the CP Bill, and indeed behind marriage equality around the world, could be harnessed to make any constitutional change necessary (if necessary- we've discussed that before) to introduce gay marriage.

    We shall see. As I said, it's just a rumour.

     

    marriage equality | civil partnership | ireland

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    • Posted By Conor S 16 Jul 2010 18:19

      Are there any nutjobs on the SC that might "find" it unconstitutional?

    • Posted By Una 16 Jul 2010 16:40

      @Tim, the Bill must be signed before next Wednesday. Would be quite surprising if COS meeting was called.

    • Posted By Ian 16 Jul 2010 15:47

      I think that she has to consult the council of state first before she can can refer it

    • Posted By Dave 16 Jul 2010 15:46

      *Sigh* Do we need a damn constitution?

    • Posted By Tim 16 Jul 2010 15:33

      P.S. She must make her mind up within 7 days of receiving the bill from the Taoiseach (Article 25.2.1) [and he's required to send it to her as soon as it passes both Houses (Article 25.1)] and then if she does refer it to the Supremes they have to pass a verdict on it within 60 days (Article 26.2.1) - so, all in all, a decision will come by approx. 16th September at the latest. It shouldn't delay the proposed time for the commencement of the bill, as that doesn't look like being until late December, early January anyway.

    • Posted By Tim 16 Jul 2010 15:25

      It's a tricky one. Damned if she does. Damned if she doesn't. However it may be better to use Article Whatever now to either have the bill fireproofed from further attack or binned at this stage. The last thing anyone could want is for people who do enter civil partnerships to find that they're not worth the paper they're written on in 5, 10 or 20 years time.

    • Posted By S 16 Jul 2010 15:18

      As the previous poster says, once a bill has passed an Article 26 reference it is immune from constitutional challenge forever more. Sometimes previous Presidents (Robinson) have referred perfectly constitutional pieces of legislation for review by the Supreme Court in order to prevent challenges later on. For example, I believe that the Adoption Act was referred for an Art 26 reference for precisely this reason. If this Act had been challenged and found unconstitutional at a later date, then thousands of adoptions under the Act would have been void, because once something is declared unconsitutional, it is unconstitutional from the date of enactment. So, if she was going to refer it under Article 26 I would take this as a positive step rather than a negative one. She might simply be trying to protect gay couples who enter into civil partnerships from being left in a legal limbo/quagmire if the Church/Hate groups managed to subsequently challenge the legislation. I think it is probably a strategy to head off these lunatics once and for all. In fact, I think the best thing she could do for us is to refer it under Article 26. It's what I would do, especially if I was confident that the legislation was constitutional (which is almost certainly is).

    • Posted By Mickers 16 Jul 2010 14:35

      If it is referred to the Supreme Court under Article 26, and once it's been found not to offend the constitution, It cannot be impugned again in any case before the courts. It'd be a good thing for gays.

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