Are judges enemies of the people?

24 January 2017

Students will learn about why judges are involved in the Article 50 Brexit process this week, when they pilot new Citizenship lessons developed by the Bar Council and Citizenship Foundation that explain the role of the judiciary in the democratic process.

Sam Mercer, Head of Policy for CSR at the Bar Council said:

"We heard that a number of schools had struggled to find ways of talking to their students about the High Court ruling on Article 50 last year, when judges were branded in the press as 'enemies of the people'. 

"How do you explain to a teenager that there is an argument for unelected judges in a democracy? Constitutional politics is not always easy to understand, but it is vital that our children properly understand how our government and judiciary work, and we are delighted to be working with the Citizenship Foundation on this project. 

"These lessons will help students to understand why judges are involved in deciding questions such as who should trigger Article 50. Not everybody will agree with their ruling, but young people should be able to think critically about Government and the judiciary, and we want to give them the right tools and information so that they can do it properly. 

"A lot of young people will be following President Trump's first week in office and they may be interested to learn that he has a big influence over appointing judges to the United States Supreme Court. They might also be interested to learn that the UK does things differently." 

Tom Franklin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation said:

"The Citizenship Foundation is pleased to be working with the Bar Council to help young people understand the importance of the rule of law in upholding democracy in the UK by discussing a real-life and significant event. 

"It is so important that we educate the next generation about the way our system works, specifically the way our constitution separates powers between the government, the legislature, and the judiciary so that they can be prepared to be active and engaged citizens as adults."

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Notes to Editors 

Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad. 

The Citizenship Foundation is a charity that was set up in 1989. We inspire people to take part in society as equal members of it. We help them learn how to do this effectively by teaching them citizenship skills. In particular, we help young people to understand how the law, politics and public life affect them. 

How do we do this? 

  • We promote civic participation;

  • We help teachers, schools and colleges to deliver citizenship education;

  • We work with young people on issues that concern them. 

For more information, please contact: Ruth Dwight - Programme Director - Citizenship Foundation, ruth.dwight@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk, 020 7566 4151, www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk