Judicial appointments bill could be referred to Supreme Court

Judicial appointments bill could be referred to Supreme Court

Landmark reforms to the judicial appointments process could be referred to the Supreme Court this week amid concerns around their constitutionality.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2022, which completed the final stages in the Oireachtas in July, will replace the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) with a new Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

After previous attempts to reform the process stalled over disagreements on the composition of a new body, the final version of the bill provides for JAC to be chaired by the Chief Justice and have an equal number of lay members and judge members.

However, there are concerns about the constitutionality of a provision stating that only people recommended by JAC can be appointed to the bench by ministers.

President Michael D. Higgins has convened a meeting of the Council of State tomorrow afternoon to hear views on the bill’s constitutionality.

This power, under Article 26 of the Constitution, has only been exercised by President Higgins twice before, in relation to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 and the International Protection Bill 2015. Neither of those bills were referred to the Supreme Court.

The Council will meet at 2.30pm tomorrow to address the question: “Whether the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2022 should be referred by the President to the Supreme Court for a decision on the question as to whether the Bill or any specified provision or provisions thereof are repugnant to the Constitution or to any provision thereof.”

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