Dissenting from Indifference
Declaration of Standing for Chief Justice
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
In many ways, the New West Indies is a Region of Law. Where it is not written in resolutions or constitutions ratified by the consent of the majority emerging from democratic institutions, it is unwritten, customary, providing some direction to our otherwise uncertain twirling towards an unpredictable future. Law is not just the language of resolutions, it is the very language through which our stability and existence resonate. It is the guide behind moderation, the fence against brutishness, and one of the invisible pillars that allow this place to still be here for you when you log on every day.
But Brandeis was right: the Law cannot survive in an environment of injustice. Unjust Law has no life expectancy whatsoever. Therefore, our Region cannot hope for continued subsistence if injustice is allowed to strive.
For a long time, guardianship of Justice was conferred upon the Secretary-General. One year ago, citizens realised that sometimes it was the very mission of Government that had to be tested before Justice, and determined that a custodian independent from the rest of Government had to be elevated to the calling of upholding our laws. The Office of the Chief Justice was created, and it is this office that we are to elect today.
One year after its creation, the High Court has substantial work ahead. The balance between free speech and the dignity of the human beings we are, the location of the boundaries set by separation of powers, the existence or not of a distinction between the OOC people we are and the IC images we project, are all fundamental questions that the next Chief Justice will have to tackle. Additionally, it is impossible to speculate on what cases and questions will arise before the High Court in the upcoming six months. The Constitution has placed high responsibilities and high stakes in the hands of the Chief Justice. As the Learned Twelve Titans once put it "When I spend days and days reviewing all the factors of the case, debating with myself what the fairest sentence will be, writing thousands of words for my Court orders, it's because I know when I make a unilateral decision of such consequence, it must be well thought out." Decisions of the Chief Justice have immense consequences on parties and sizeable consequences on the very fabric and future of this region. You would be forgiven to feel intimidated.
To any that would feel this way, here are words of reassurance. Good knowledge of NWI Law is necessary for this calling, but the moral qualities and fibre of the Chief Justice outrank legal mastery. At least two individuals, if not more in the form of amici, will come up with carefully constructed and convincing legal arguments for each case. Discernment, the ability to spot arguments and fallacies, and sound reasoning are all important qualities. But perhaps the most important of all is empathy. The best Chief Justices will be those who understand that their actions and words have a rippling effect on this region and its citizens, who understand the motivations of the parties before them, who can place themselves in the shoes of every party, see situations from their point of view, and offer a reasoned synthesis of those. Anyone can read and learn NWI Law, but only the most upstanding jurists, those who belong to the High Court, will have engrained in them this sense of empathy, which is what I encourage every candidate and every voter to seek.
What did Brandeis really mean when saying making the Law "respectable"? Was this another one of his bursts of judicial activism? Perhaps. But more likely, respectable law means a judicature that every justiciable can respect and look up to. It means a world where a fair trial is a reality, not a Constitutionnal fiction. It means a world where the Chief Justice is endowed with integrity, open-mindedness, intelligence, responsiveness, and empathy. It means a world where the merit of your claim, not your name or the number of letters you can stack behind it, or even your ability to eloquently manipulate the English language, determines the outcomes of a case. It means a world where nobody is above a law that is justly applied to all those who seek its guidance. In one word like in a hundred, it means a world where the process and word of the Guardian of Law, the High Court, are trustworthy and trusted.
One year and great history is behind the next Chief Justice, who will have the power to write a future of continued prosperity for the Region. To run for Chief Justice, you must notify Celestiam or NWIgov by telegram or Discord message (@Seafarer#5810) of your intent to run. There is only one seat, so there is no need to present any running mate. Your platform will be promoted on the NWI.gov informational dispatch if you notify Celestiam or NWI.gov of the existence of such a platform. Polls will open on Saturday the 17th of October. You should aim to enter your candidacy before 16:00 UTC on that day. After 72 hours of polling, the next Chief Justice will take Office on November 1st, 2020.
Best of luck to all! May the best candidate, and the one who will not be afraid to dissent when necessary, win this race.
7 OCTOBER, 2020
The Rt. Hon Celestiam, OSE OIF OIN
Office of the Secretary-General