Jordan Times –
May 17, 2012 | 22:25
The Lower House of Parliament is discussing the draft law on the establishment of the Constitutional Court, as called for by the amended Constitution. One major issue, namely, who has a right to challenge the constitutionality of a law before the court was settled: the Cabinet and both Houses of Parliament have the exclusive right to challenge the constitutionality of any law.
The rule of thumb internationally is to allow the resort to this right to as many parties as possible, as long as the criteria for its use are well defined and articulated in the rules and procedures of the projected court.
It does not seem quite right to limit resorting to the Constitutional Court to only the branches of the government. Litigants whose cases have reached a high stage and are before the highest courts of the land should be able to challenge the constitutionality of any law or part thereof.
What is needed, and is juridically defensible, is to stipulate in the rules and procedures of the court how and when the constitutionality of an issue can be raised by litigants, whoever they are.
A feature of the proposed legislation that appears to be problematic is the tenure of the judges serving on the bench of the highest court of the land.
As it is now, judges are being limited to just one six-year term. Judges serving on the bench of the Constitutional Court should be allowed to serve for as long as their health permits.
Most countries that have constitutional courts allow judges to serve for life, and not for limited years.
The independence of judges cannot be ensured by a limited tenure, as stipulated in our draft law.
Constitutional Court judges should be free of all constraints, including the threat of losing their position at the court.
Hopefully these issues, and others, will be considered in due course, if not by the deputies, by senators in the Upper House of Parliament.