26 February 2008

Jimly Asshiddiqie & the Constitutional Court

The only thing apparently standing in Jimly's way to a second term on the Constitutional Court is personal political ambition! The previous months have often seen Jimly in the public eye at political events. Whether this is openly courting support for a second term on the Constitutional Court or courting support for a bigger play on the political stage such as the Vice-Presidential nominee on a favourable ticket remains to be seen. But there seems little doubt that the Chief Justice (or as he prefers the President of the Court) is angling for much bigger fish!

There is considerable parliamentary support for the current Chief Justice and in this sense he would be an unbackable favourite to be one of the three nominations that the parliament can make. The other six nominations are split three a piece between the Supreme Court and the Government (red: President).

The thing about Jimly is that he is consistent in his decision making and that provides a degree of certainty in the legal process. It is pretty much a case of you know what you will get decision wise. I certainly do not always see eye-to-eye on the interpretation of the Constitution aspects nor the manner in which retro-activity has been defined and now enshrined in Indonesian law (I know who cares, he is the Constitutional Law Professor and expert and you are but a mere lawyer -- yep, but an opinionated lawyer!). But to the Court's credit it has been consistent on this front.

Nevertheless, the danger is always going to be judicial ego, the idea of overstepping the mark from judicial review and interpretation to that of law makers. I have recently had a short but interesting "to and fro" with the Chief Justice on this point. The Court views itself as the ultimate guardian and interpreter of the Constitution and in this respect sees itself as a balancing and where necessary a correcting force to all those less educated souls on constitutional law.

My personal view is that the Chief Justice should throw his hat into the ring for another round. If he is serious about leaving a legacy, then two-terms on the Court should pretty much enshrine any legacy he wants to leave in the judicial sense. But if the call of public service is too great, and I am sure that it is, he will more than likely be opting to try and kick start a political career where any legacy he might leave could be much broader and far-reaching than any legacy he might leave at the Constitutional Court...

Time will tell!

No comments: