Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Love Blunder of the Supreme Court

Marriage, in my view, is one of those traditions that can best be described as a truly awful charade based on skewed horse-trading. Don’t get me wrong, I have a deep respect for married couples and their union; one that is borne out of real fear for their mental health, yes, but a respect nonetheless.  I even find the commercial wedding shows on television mildly entertaining, even if it’s from a sadistic view point. But really, the bottom line is that marriages is one of those decisions people make, and then later find justification for it.

What could possibly be wrong with such a formula you ask? Well it’s simple.  A rational, logical and sensible decision is part of a THINKING process; one that involves weighing and discarding the merits and demerits of the situation presented, comparing all possible outcomes and naturally discarding fallacious reasoning. A rational decision is based on factual evidence, and precedents that are applicable. A rational decision applies logical and established processes to come to a final conclusion. 

A decision to get married is rarely based on logic. In fact, if people were rational about marriage, no one would get married. When people decide to get married they make an emotional decision first, stick to their decision, and then later find justification for their emotional decisions. Even years later, when the emotions have run dry or changed, the justification is the sole comforting factor that married couples can always lean on.

Making a decision, an unanimous one, and then seeking justification for it, is an indication that a lack of rationale was behind that decision making.  When the Supreme Court came back with a 6-0 bench decision on the presidential petition filed by Raila Odinga in late March, and with no further statement on how they came to such a ruling, it was a chilling indicator that a jurical rationale may actually be missing from their ruling.

So when their ruling was released to the public this week, filled with logical fallacies I was not really surprised. After all, what happened in late March was an announcement of an engagement – you ever see a couple together and think what does HE see in HER? Or vice versa?  The announcement in March had that same dumbfounding effect on all of us.

I personally was stunned. Well, not so much stunned as shocked at the unanimity of the decision. Of course I could see the early trend and tendency in the Chief Justice to be a judicial toddler unaware of his responsibilities to the nation and incapable of comprehending the law remotely well enough to even be considered a jurist. That has always been the case since Dr. Willy Mutunga announced cheerily that his earring helps him communicate with his gods during the vetting by the CIOC.

What shocked me is that somehow, we actually appointed 5 other judges with the same infantile approach to judicial matters!

This explains the blank stares and absent smiles on their faces during the hearing of the petitions. I thought they were as bored as I was listening to the redundant overtures of false humility rent by Kethi Kilonzo; “My lords, I humbly this, I humbly that.”

But no, it was not sweet Kethi’s court room mannerisms that were getting to the bench. They had blank stares on their faces because there is a blank space behind those eyes.
This click of 6 judicial tots, not a single jurist between them, went into a boardroom and made a decision to uphold the results of the election, having applied neither rationale nor legal basis and then 2 weeks later, having taken the time to dig up some storyline, present what can only be described as a “justificatory assent.” 

A legal acquaintance, Emmanuel Essaidah, put it best – “My favorite legal scholar, Ronald Dworkin, in his book, ‘Justice in Robes’ describes the problem of “justificatory assent”  as the realization that a principle we are relying on is ‘inconsistent with…some other principle that we must rely on to justify some other and larger part of the law’. You can see this particular problem loom large all over the Supreme Court judgment. The Judges claim to recognize that an election case isn’t a criminal case, yet they realize they must rely on a criminal standard of proof (proof beyond reasonable doubt) to achieve a pre-conceived result. They claim that transparency is crucial, yet they rely on the principle of discretion to afford the IEBC the right to do things behind closed doors. Go figure.”

Are you as baffled as I am at this? Where did we go wrong, pray tell, as a nation such that we can churn out such skewed minds and put them in such seats of power as the Supreme Court?

What an awful charade this Supreme Court has become, a place where justice is swept neatly under reasonably good English yet ridiculous references to totally irrelevant cases from the Nigerian Supreme Court.

I guess some 6 people are in love or something, there is no other way to explain the lack of judicial rationale in their ruling. It’s obvious that the unanimous decision in March was a pre-conceived outcome, that had little basis on the law, and then 2 weeks later the ruling is forced to express itself in the most fallacious manner, causing even the least developed legal mind to be completely irritated. 

Just like the awful marriage idea that some people get in their youth, 10 years of wedded hell and 3 children later at their anniversary, the couple smiles banally at their guests and behind those blank faces is a blank mind that repeatedly screams “I hate this person!”; we as a republic will surely find ourselves regretting, in fact deeply regretting this Supreme Court ruling for the precedent it has set.

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