Democracy and the Supreme Court: judges and the politicians

Hosted by the Department of Government

Online public event


Lord Falconer

Lord Falconer


Dr Paul Apostolidis

Dr Paul Apostolidis

Join us for the annual Robert H Smith Family Foundation Lecture in Democracy which aims to promote the importance of international diplomacy and democracy in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin as a diplomat and politician. 

The settled position of law and the judges in our constitution has undergone very severe stress testing over the last five years, through Brexit and coronavirus.  Those two crises demonstrate the dominance of the executive, who as coronavirus demonstrates can change the law at will if circumstances demand it, and the dominance of politics – if the politicians don’t like the limits set by the law they will not only change the law, they may change the constitution to neuter the judges.  How much at risk is the rule of law?  And what should we do about it?  Has politics prevented us from defending the rule of law? The lecture will set out the threat which is real, the consequences which are dire, and the steps we can take both to form a coalition which defends the rule of law and the specific constitutional changes needed to embed the rule of law.

Charlie Falconer (@LordCFalconer) is an English qualified barrister and partner based in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s London office.  The former UK Lord Chancellor and first Secretary of State for Justice spent 25 years as a commercial barrister, becoming a QC in 1991.  

In June 2003, he became the Lord Chancellor and the first Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.  He was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1974 and was appointed Solicitor General in May 1997.  Between 1974 and 1997 he was a commercial barrister.

In 1997 he joined the Blair government as Solicitor-General, moving a year later to the Cabinet Office. In 2001, after the general election, he became Housing, Planning and Regeneration Minister and in 2002 he became Criminal Justice Minister. 

In 2003 he became Lord Chancellor.  In conjunction with the then Lord Chief Justice he worked out a detailed new relationship between the judiciary and the executive, which was embodied in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. His reform included the creation, for the first time, of a Supreme Court for the UK, the creation of a commission to appoint judges, making a full-time independent judge the Head of the Judiciary for England and Wales, and introducing an elected Speaker for the House of Lords.

In 2007 he became the first Secretary of State for Justice bringing together courts, prisons and justice policy for the first time.

Paul Apostolidis is Associate Professorial Lecturer and Deputy Head of Department for Education in the Department of Government at LSE.

This event is hosted in partnership with Benjamin Franklin House, the world's only remaining home of Benjamin Franklin open to the public as a museum and educational facility.

The Department of Government (@LSEGovernment) is a world-leading centre for study and research in politics and government.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEDemocracy

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This event will be hosted online


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