By Attorney Keith Neville Asumuyaya Best
TO RECAP: We began PART 1 of this series with the question above, hoping that the answer would slap us in the face. It didn’t! So we tried to go about it another way: “Where in the world had such chutzpah, (gall, nerve, balls) been found, that together, dashed the Supreme Court Justices enough girth, (areas around their waists, stomachs and backs) it left them a little higher than the other two competing branches of government.
Who could have guessed that our Justices would today find themselves practically at sea, following their election to do a volte face, (an about face, backpedal) into a ‘superior’ court-fumble, as a viable way forward out of the current ‘writ of prohibition’ wrangle?
It was that boost that allowed the Bench to reach out, bridging the gulf to another world that lay between them and the House of Representatives. That bridge allowed them to take on a bunch of legislative rebels from one of the other two branches, putting them where they belonged: in their place. (NOW READ ON!)
How had they arrived at this juncture? The Supreme Court Justices–we have to presume, must have simply freaked out over the word: ‘supreme.’ Hadn’t they always been enamored, (charmed by, in love with) that word? Now they could take it one step higher. The British had been right, they told themselves: the supreme court had — in that (early tradition – started off, technically, (scientifically, practically) as a ‘superior court.’
“One of their better minds, it seems, soon came up with a brilliant idea: that the Judiciary had been the best—and the strongest player amongst the three branches. Again, that’s the way the Justices’ thinking seemed to have been running.
The Founding-Fathers might have fooled the Liberian nation. The Judiciary, to begin with, then, should have been the First Branch of Government; Let the other two Branches make the laws; it would be the Judiciary interpreting and deciding which laws would hold, and which ones would not.
Thinking this way must have turned their heads, edging them onto a pedestal of their own making: a pedestal that ‘juked’ (cajoled, flattered) them into reconsidering themselves with exaggerated (over-blown) self-regard.
Something else was happening at the same time: all personal imperfections — that each Justice may have been nurturing, or laboring under — simply faded out of existence for now; only to return later, to haunt them.
With a dose of chutzpah, they had “built a bridge too far,” only to find out — a bit too late — as Julius Caesar had discovered in 49 B.C: that to “cross the Rubicon,” meant to embark on an undertaking from which one cannot turn back! (Rubicon: a small river in northern Italy.) Caesar’s crossing it with his army, represented an illegal entry into Italy and thereby initiated civil war!
“Crossing the Rubicon”
“We wanted no ‘Superior’ Court, like what the British once had, Liberia’s Founding Fathers had hinted without hesitation, almost two centuries before. Had they still been alive a few months ago, they would have declined a Liberian ‘Superior’ Court, again, this second time around.
Liberia’s Founding Fathers understood only too well, that the British had been forced to keep adjusting, (fine-tuning, fiddling) with the numerous, (many) changing judicial options the British had no choice but to switch to from one tryout to the other, given the major social and political challenges involved with moving from a Monarchy to something less autocratic. That had been simply to make sure that power-sharing remained manageable, (simple, easy to handle).
And that was eons, (ages) ago. Though, the British Empire is no more, Great Britain persists, (endures, continues) today, and thrives. Would that be reason enough for Britain to want to revert, (go back to the old ways she had given up? No! So, what part of this re-invented, newly-minted, improved, Liberian ‘Superior’ Court, do our Justices find appealing in this day and age?
A Rock and a Hard-Place
Today, the Judiciary finds itself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place, in connection with designs and steps by some members of the legislature who want to see Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh removed from the Supreme Court. Something appeared screwed up a good while back—long before activity on both sides of the controversy began stalling, (slowing down, getting stuck). Some finger-pointing has been going on for some time as well. All of it has to do with the Law, though no side involved is going to admit to being on the wrong side.
(Once again, for the benefit of our readers) Prohibition is “a writ directed to the judge, and parties of a suit in any inferior court, commanding them to cease from the prosecution thereof upon a surmise either that the cause originally or some collateral matter arising therein does not belong to that jurisdiction, but to the cognizance of some other court.
Also, it may be used to restrain an official from doing an administrative ministerial or legislative act not falling within his province. So to whom does the public turn, when the prohibition police, (meaning, the Supreme Court) proceeds to act ultra vires, outside the scope of their responsibilities?