Lawyer Philip Henson on Lord Carey’s brilliant plan
The independence of the judiciary is axiomatic; it goes to the very core of the constitution of this country. Could Lord Carey’s request for specific judicial panels to hear religious cases, or asking for specific judges to be excluded, amount to an assertion of a “superior right” for the Church of England? Let’s not forget that the religion or belief regulations are themselves derived from framework directive 2000/78/EC which set a general framework for combating discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation as regards employment and occupation with a view to putting into effect in the member states the principle of equal treatment.
If Lord Carey, or indeed anyone else, is concerned about judicial bias they are able to complain to the Office for Judicial Complaints (with evidence of their concerns) or lobby for further parliamentary consultation, or lobby for legislative change in Europe.
I fear that publicly asking specific senior judges to excuse themselves could create a dangerous ground for future conflict.