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Justice Kabinah M. JanehAssociate Justice Kabinah M. Ja'neh says the Supreme Court of Liberia has woefully failed to rise up to its constitutional duty to interpret the law during its recent ruling into petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed by some political parties and a group of concerned eminent citizens against the National Elections Commission.

In his dissenting opinion last Saturday with the majority decision, Justice Ja'neh told the court that he differed with the fundamental point by the majority that the issues raised by the petitioners were political questions, which should be venue before the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government.

He said the majority of the Bench expediently termed the only pivotal question before the Highest Court of the land as a political question.

Justice Ja'neh said unlike the 1847 Constitution which provided no such expressed authority, Article 2 of the 1986 Constitution unequivocally grants the Supreme Court of Liberia the power of judicial review, which he noted, may declare as void and of no legal effect, any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs and regulation found to be inconsistent with the Constitution.

He stated that it is the constitutional mandate of the Supreme Court to pronounce as 'unconstitutional' any conduct, action, regulation, law, or order which the Court finds to be inconsistent with any provision of the Liberian Constitution.

Justice Ja'neh observed that the writers of the Constitution, under Article 66, placed strict constitutional prohibition on the enactment of laws seeking to divest the Supreme Court of any of its powers.

Justice Ja'neh said the rights to life and liberty as well as the protection, preservation, enjoyment and defense thereof, are amongst the fundamental rights guaranteed both under the 1986 Constitution and its predecessor organic instrument of 1847.

He cited Article 11 (a) of the Liberian Constitution as his reliance which states “All persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the right of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of pursuing and maintaining the security of the person.”

He said it is worth noting that the Supreme Court of Liberia, in the case, Begbah v. Republic of Liberia, decided as far back in 1906, recognized the distinctiveness and irretrievability of the gift of life.

In that case, Ja'neh said the High Court opined: “Nothing is or can be dearer to man than his life; hence, no other man, or a legal tribunal has the right to dispossess one of life, except by due process of law backed by unequivocal evidence.”

By that potent reason, he stated: “this court, the dernier resort of justice is slow and careful in weighing facts and evidence to the dispossessing of man of that life not given by man, but given by God.”

Justice Ja'neh emphasized that the right to vote in public elections and referendum is amongst the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, noting that the exercise by every Liberian citizen the right to vote without any undue hindrance is constitutionally guaranteed in Article 77 (b) of the Constitution.

He quoted Article 77 (b) which states: “All elections shall be secret ballot as may be determined by the Elections Commission, and every Liberian citizen not less than 18 years of age, shall have the right to be registered as voter and to vote in public elections and referenda under the Constitution.”

He said in the opening statement of his dissenting view: “I have taken a great time to reflect soberly on the substantive questions raised in the pleadings before this Court. Consequently, I find it simply unfathomable to shut my eyes to the important constitutional questions raised by the contending parties as my esteemed colleagues have conveniently chosen to do.”

Associate Justice Speaks On Court’s Ruling

 

Associate Justice Kabinah M. Ja'neh says the Supreme Court of Liberia has woefully failed to rise up to its constitutional duty to interpret the law during its recent ruling into petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed by some political parties and a group of concerned eminent citizens against the National Elections Commission.

 

In his dissenting opinion last Saturday with the majority decision, Justice Ja'neh told the court that he differed with the fundamental point by the majority that the issues raised by the petitioners were political questions, which should be venue before the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government.

 

He said the majority of the Bench expediently termed the only pivotal question before the Highest Court of the land as a political question.

 

Justice Ja'neh said unlike the 1847 Constitution which provided no such expressed authority, Article 2 of the 1986 Constitution unequivocally grants the Supreme Court of Liberia the power of judicial review, which he noted, may declare as void and of no legal effect, any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs and regulation found to be inconsistent with the Constitution.

 

He stated that it is the constitutional mandate of the Supreme Court to pronounce as 'unconstitutional' any conduct, action, regulation, law, or order which the Court finds to be inconsistent with any provision of the Liberian Constitution.

 

Justice Ja'neh observed that the writers of the Constitution, under Article 66, placed strict constitutional prohibition on the enactment of laws seeking to divest the Supreme Court of any of its powers.

 

Justice Ja'neh said the rights to life and liberty as well as the protection, preservation, enjoyment and defense thereof, are amongst the fundamental rights guaranteed both under the 1986 Constitution and its predecessor organic instrument of 1847.

 

He cited Article 11 (a) of the Liberian Constitution as his reliance which states “All persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the right of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of pursuing and maintaining the security of the person.”

 

He said it is worth noting that the Supreme Court of Liberia, in the case, Begbah v. Republic of Liberia, decided as far back in 1906, recognized the distinctiveness and irretrievability of the gift of life.

 

In that case, Ja'neh said the High Court opined: “Nothing is or can be dearer to man than his life; hence, no other man, or a legal tribunal has the right to dispossess one of life, except by due process of law backed by unequivocal evidence.”

 

By that potent reason, he stated: “this court, the dernier resort of justice is slow and careful in weighing facts and evidence to the dispossessing of man of that life not given by man, but given by God.”

 

Justice Ja'neh emphasized that the right to vote in public elections and referendum is amongst the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, noting that the exercise by every Liberian citizen the right to vote without any undue hindrance is constitutionally guaranteed in Article 77 (b) of the Constitution.

 

He quoted Article 77 (b) which states: “All elections shall be secret ballot as may be determined by the Elections Commission, and every Liberian citizen not less than 18 years of age, shall have the right to be registered as voter and to vote in public elections and referenda under the Constitution.”

 

He said in the opening statement of his dissenting view: “I have taken a great time to reflect soberly on the substantive questions raised in the pleadings before this Court. Consequently, I find it simply unfathomable to shut my eyes to the important constitutional questions raised by the contending parties as my esteemed colleagues have conveniently chosen to do.”