Chapter

<i>Contempt of the Legislature</i>

DAVID CLARK and GERARD McCOY

in The Most Fundamental Legal Right

Published in print April 2000 | ISBN: 9780198265849
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191715280 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198265849.003.0009
Contempt of the Legislature

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The penal jurisdictions of modern legislatures include powers to summon persons, to examine them on oath, fine them, and even detain them for disobedience to legislative orders. These contempt powers have origins deep in England’s parliamentary history and are connected with the long struggle by the country’s parliament to establish its autonomy and, ultimately, its supremacy over the executive. In order to understand the relationship between the powers of parliament and the remedy of habeas corpus it is first necessary to understand these historical origins and the theory upon which parliamentary powers were based. The British position that the parliament is beyond the reach of judicial review was based on the theory that it was a superior court and as such could not be reviewed. This theory was abandoned in the 19th century, and replaced by an immunity from review based on political necessity and, more importantly, on the understandable desire to avoid clashes between the legislature and the courts. This chapter also discusses issues related to contempt in the British colonies and the procedural implications of constitutional review.

Keywords: contempt; legislature; habeas corpus; parliament; parliamentary history; immunity; privilege; constitutional review; colonies

Chapter.  23347 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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