Posts by Andrew Geddis

  • Speaker: Gay marriage, weed, and death…,

    Just a comment on these points: quickly the country went from its first law permitting same-sex marriage (2004, in Massachusetts), to a majority of States first acting to ban same-sex marriage, then after 2012 a majority of States moving to allow it (36 by last week)...

    A majority of the States had already allowed same-sex marriage before the US Supreme Court acted. This is very different from abortion, where only around a third of States had acted pre-Court.

    I'd note that a lot of the States that permitted same sex marriage pre-Supreme Court decision did so because other courts told them that they had to. Some of those courts were State ones (applying State constitutional provisions - like happened in Massachusetts), but a bunch were Federal (applying the US Constitution - like Mississippi). So it's not that the States were independently moving through their legislative/referenda process to allow this practice. Rather, it's that the courts decided pretty much en masse that the States had to let this happen ... with the Supreme Court simply being the latest one to do so (as well as the most important, because once it says it has to happen, then ALL the States have to listen).

    Why, then, did the courts do so? Part of it is that society's view did change ... judges know how to read opinion polls just like politicians do. But part of it also was that the legal precedents were pretty well set - it's hard to read Loving v Virginia and not apply the exact same reasoning to same-sex relationships. And, by the same token, there is a far more active and developed public interest litigation strategy in place today - c.f., say, female suffrage, when the idea of getting the courts to tell States they had to let women vote just wasn't on anyone's radar.

    How, then, does this map onto the two other issues you touch on - pot and aid in dying? Well, pot doesn't raise an issue of constitutional rights, so there isn't a Bill of Rights path to the Supreme Court. Which means it has to be fought State by State through the political process. And aid in dying may have gone too soon - in the 1990s the Supreme Court said that it wouldn't rule on the matter, but instead leave it to the "laboratory of the States" to deal with. Which means that, at least until a bunch more States follow Oregon/Washington/Vermont, it'll keep out of the fray (as well as keeping other federal courts out of it, too).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Bridges swims in troubled waters,

    I’d rather both sides played by the actual rules. But I remember my game theory classes. If the other side is going to play dirty, then often it’s better to do the same right back than be a lily-white loser.

    Oh, Rob, Rob ... you charming naif.

    The way it works is that when National does it, then even pointing it out is simply crying wah, wah, wah and focusing on a classic beltway issue. However, should Labour do it in (say) five years time, it will be the worst action ever taken by any government ever and a sure sign that it plans to establish a one-party dictatorship.

    Do you know nothing of how this all works?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Compensation for Teina Pora?, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yes, and this could easily be a bi-partisan thing, since it just looks like an out of date law that just got tested.

    The Cabinet Guidelines are not law. There is no law governing the giving of compensation - the Government has set these Guidelines (note that - Guidelines) up as a way of deciding whether or not to give "ex gratia" payments (i.e. payments it makes out of the goodness of its heart, rather than because the law makes it do so).

    This means it can ignore the fact that the Privy Council/Supreme Court got left out of the written version of its Guidelines and apply them anyway (in a way it couldn't if these were "law"). Which is what it appears Amy Adams is going to do. Which is a good thing and to her credit.

    But more generally, compensation in these situations should be a legal right, not something that the Government gives or doesn't give according to its own "rules" (which it can change and/or ignore whenever it wants). That would require an Act of Parliament, of course ... hopefully as a part of wider move towards setting up some sort of wrongful conviction review body.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Compensation for Teina Pora?,

    The guidelines do not mention the Privy Council. I think the distinction that the guidelines make is a stupid one, especially in light of the creation of the Supreme Court, which is also not mentioned.

    I'd go further. If Cabinet tried to argue that Pora's case is "outside its guidelines" because the guidelines in question somehow neglected to include the highest courts in NZ's curial hierarchy it would be so completely fucking outrageous that every lawyer in NZ ought to march on the Beehive and burn the place to the ground.

    Metaphorically speaking, of course.

    For what it is worth, I also missed what the guidelines actually say in full, instead relying on the MoJ's summary of the matter:

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: What next for Winston?, in reply to Rich of Observationz,


    Something like that. It may or may not be a good legal argument, but I don't think s.23 precludes it in the way Graeme suggests.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: What next for Winston?, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    It does use the words “Members’ seats become vacant only as provided in Electoral Act 1993”.

    True. But if the Speaker/Privileges Committee were to say that Peters being elected as member for Northland has vacated his list seat, it would be by virtue of the Electoral Act ... wouldn't it? By implication, to be sure, but it wouldn't be a claim of composition privilege (which is what s.23 is intended to address).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: What next for Winston?,

    The House has no power to make a member’s seat become vacant by expelling the member ... from membership of the House.

    But in your scenario, the House would not be "expelling the member". Peters would remain in the House (as MP for Northland). It's just he'd be joined by another NZ First MP (from the party list). So I don't think that s.23 gives quite as definitive an answer to the question as you suggest.

    Note that s.23 doesn't say "the only way a vacancy in the House can occur is through s.55 of the Electoral Act." Rather, it simply rules out one particular way in which a vacancy may have been able to occur - through the expulsion of a member .

    Anyway, the point is completely moot. There is zero chance that David Carter would send this to the Privileges Committee.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: MPs to vote on raising…,

    Here's what I wondered ... is there any Government procurement policy requiring ex-MPs to give preference to Air NZ for their travel (as, for instance, we're meant to at the University of Otago)? And it appears that there is:

    Question then is whether this applies to ex-MPs booking their own travel?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Access: Right to die?,

    So, these experts who are so scared of becoming disabled that they firmly believe “better dead than disabled” are those who will get to speak for us when it comes to the end game?

    No – they are speaking for themselves and others who may share their perspective (such as myself) that end-of-life choices should be theirs to make. Just as you are speaking for yourself and others in the disabled community with (justified and understandable) concerns about how the law may apply. Why isn’t there room for both sets of voices in the debate, and why conflate one with the other?

    The other problem with physician assisted suicide is that we will all be implicated in the killing of innocent citizens by virtue of the fact doctors are subsidised by public money.

    So …Catholics having to fund abortions? Jehovah’s Witnesses having to fund blood transfusions? Christian Scientists having to fund all medical treatments? Not to mention pacifists having to fund the army. Does anyone with a moral/religious problem with a form of medical intervention (or other publicly funded practice) get to veto its provision?

    So the solution is to legalise euthanasia and let doctors get on with their job of assisting people to die. Hang on a minute – I thought the Hippocratic oath which all doctors take was about preserving life and doing no harm?

    So I have to let a doctor decide for me what is in my best interest, because the doctor knows best how patients ought to be treated? That’s a pretty old-school view of the medical profession … as well as a somewhat surprising one, given the past medical view of how newly born disabled children were viewed (“no point trying to save the little guy/girl, given the sort of life he/she would lead anyway … .”)

    Language is important in this debate.

    Fine. But that means your terms aren’t neutral either. So there is no way to “call this like it is”, because the terms anyone uses for it are defined by that person’s prior view of the practice itself. Witness “terminating a fetus” vs. “killing an unborn child.

    I cannot see why it is so devastating in the minds of others to need someone to help than, say, get dressed when it is not at all devastating for them to have to rely on someone to fix their TV, or car, or plumbing.

    But if you cannot see why it is so devastating, then why are you so disparaging of those who hold this view? Perhaps this might help you understand better:

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: The Northland by-election;…, in reply to Kim_Wright,

    Just wondering if a voter was on the Maori role for the 2014 election are they able to enrol on the general role for the by-election?

    No. They can't.

    Once a person is on the Maori/General roll, they may only change rolls during the "electoral option period" following each census. Next one isn't due until 2018.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 165 posts Report Reply

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