Friday, May 11, 2018

Junk the quo warranto

An argument against the unlimited powers of the Supreme Court, as it should, above all, be fiercely loyal and adherent to the Constitution, begins with a hypothetical issue of adding another ray to the Philippine flag:

If a case were to reach the Court demanding that a ninth ray be added to the flag, and the constitutional provision was not amended and duly ratified, the Court would have to reject the case based on the hallowed tradition honoring the current flag that goes all the way back to 1898. Article XVI, Section 1 itself speaks of “consecration” by the people and “recognition” in law; but the point is, even if the proviso were not included, the Court would still be bound by this tradition. In other words, there are limits beyond which the Supreme Court cannot venture. Like King Canute of legend, who was reported to have commanded the tide of the sea to stop (and failed), the Court cannot hold back the tides of reason and history.

The Inquirer editorial goes further:

The wrong that the Supreme Court is poised to commit today is so clear, and so clearly unjust, that over a hundred law professors, led by deans and former deans of law schools in different parts of the country, published an advertisement calling on the Supreme Court to stop resisting the constitutional tide. “We, members of law faculties, express our deep concern at the move to unseat the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by means other than by impeachment.”

Melba Padilla Maggay's analysis is worth reading.

The quo warranto petition is a brazen violation of the Constitution, which states that the Chief Justice can only be removed through a trial in the Senate acting as an impeachment court. What propels the Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over this case, in effect abandoning its constitutional duty to uphold the law and safeguard the integrity of the Charter as a legal frame for the conduct of our institutions?

What seems clear is that the Supreme Court is in grave danger of being irreversibly damaged, reduced to a choir singing a chorus of assent to the dictates of a potentate who sees an enemy in anyone who would not bend a knee, to be eliminated by weakened state instrumentalities.

If the justices lend credence to the quo warranto, they effectively put into the hands of unprincipled legal technicians an insidious weapon that would cow them into submission. It is a sword that will make their heads roll in the event that any one of them stands up to Calida’s boss.

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