Extending human and civic rights

How to design deliberative democratic assemblies in an inclusive way: a recommendation for policy-makers

How to design deliberative democratic assemblies in an inclusive way: a recommendation for policy-makers

When faced with political deadlock, many campaigners suggest employing democratic innovations like citizens’ assemblies, in which a group of citizens come together to deliberate and make direct policy recommendations. If the role of these new democratic institutions is to grow within the UK political system, it is crucial to make them more inclusive and sensitive to intersectionality, argues Marta Wojciechowska. The key is not to employ single or ‘one-off’ acts of inclusion but rather to promote the leadership of disempowered people and to diversify the contexts in which democratic innovations take place.

Why it’s bad for democracy when we ignore the voices we would rather not hear

Why it’s bad for democracy when we ignore the voices we would rather not hear

Democracy requires that citizens be empowered to speak their minds across a wide range of issues. But in order to ensure democratic equality, do we have to include and listen even to those hateful, racist, or misogynistic voices that would seek to undermine democracy? Mary F. (Molly) Scudder argues that it is only with reference to the concept of ‘uptake’ that we can effectively deal with anti-democratic speech and arguments. She argues that if we first consider and critically engage with what others have to say, we are then justified in rejecting their input and even shutting them down. Focusing on the importance of uptake in democratic deliberation, she argues,can sound the alarm – alerting people to threats to democracy – while also helping to ensure that the voices of the marginalised and oppressed are not dismissed or ignored.

The rights of non-UK EU citizens are still not a ‘done deal’

The rights of non-UK EU citizens are still not a ‘done deal’

In his first appearance in the House of Commons as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said that non-UK EU citizens would be ‘guaranteed’ the right to stay after Brexit, restating an earlier promise. However, the government has proposed no new primary legislation to achieve this. Alexandra Bulat explains how the existing settled status scheme still falls short of enshrining automatic rights, and how a ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean further uncertainties and inequalities in EU citizens’ rights.

The US Supreme Court has decided partisan gerrymandering is outside its remit. A democratic restoration now depends on the people alone.

The US Supreme Court has decided partisan gerrymandering is outside its remit. A democratic restoration now depends on the people alone.

The United States Supreme Court has determined that reviewing partisan gerrymandering cases was outside the remit of federal courts. Alex Keena, Michael Latner, Anthony J. McGann and Charles Anthony Smith argue that in failing to recognise the vote dilution caused by the redrawing of a state’s electoral district boundaries to the party in power’s advantage, as well as connecting the majority rule standard to the 14th Amendment, the decision removes Americans’ fundamental right to participate equally in the political process.

In the name of parliamentary sovereignty: how the conflict between the UK government and the courts over prisoner voting rights was really about executive power

In the name of parliamentary sovereignty: how the conflict between the UK government and the courts over prisoner voting rights was really about executive power

In UK political disputes over European Court of Human Rights judgments, such as the high-profile objections to rulings on prisoner voting, much political capital is made out of the claim that the European Court is impinging on UK parliamentary sovereignty. However, Helen Hardman argues that the objections have instead been based on concern that court rulings would limit the decision-making powers of the government, rather than the independence and sovereignty of parliament. Archival and interview data demonstrate that the strategic purpose of the stand-off against the European Court was directed at weakening the European Convention system because it empowers UK domestic courts to effectively challenge government policy.

Have changes in counterterrorism legislation before and after 9/11 curtailed civil rights?

Have changes in counterterrorism legislation before and after 9/11 curtailed civil rights?

Nicole Bolleyer examines the extent and form of legal changes across five western countries in the decades that span 9/11 and finds that in general the level of legal constraints on civil liberties has grown, though with considerable variation between countries and in types of restrictions.

#DeniedMyVote – why many EU citizens were unable to vote in the European Parliament elections

#DeniedMyVote – why many EU citizens were unable to vote in the European Parliament elections

On Thursday 23 May, the UK participated in European Parliament elections. Citizens of all EU countries should be able to vote in these elections in the country they live, but many non-UK EU citizens found they had been excluded from the electoral register and were unable to vote. Toby James explains how the government’s long-term failure to improve our electoral laws and short-term pressures led to many people being denied their right to vote.

The ‘hourglass’ pattern of representation: why political parties are key to electing more women to parliament

The ‘hourglass’ pattern of representation: why political parties are key to electing more women to parliament

The underrepresentation of women in politics is often portrayed as a pyramid, with the main problem identified as too few at the top. However, research by Ulrik Kjær and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen, shows that, in the case of Denmark, it follows an hourglass pattern, with underrepresentation worst at the intermediary stages of party membership and candidate identification. This suggests that party strategies for encouraging women to stand are important for improving representation.

A strange irony: How the EU withdrawal process ended up saving the Human Rights Act

A strange irony: How the EU withdrawal process ended up saving the Human Rights Act

Even though it looks increasingly likely the Brexit deal will not survive its first hurdle in parliament, there is yet more evidence in its pages that Brexit has saved the Human Rights Act and secured Britain’s long term future as party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), writes Frederick Cowell. In the Political Declaration on the Framework of Future relations with the EU, the document accompanying the withdrawal agreement, under the heading ‘core values and rights there is a commitment to ‘respect the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights’. In the text of the withdrawal agreement itself – which would be a legally binding on the government – there are provisions in the Protocols on Northern Ireland, which seem to assume the UK remains a party to the ECHR.

Book Review | Striking Women: Struggles and Strategies of South Asian Women Workers from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet by Sundari Anitha and Ruth Pearson

Book Review | Striking Women: Struggles and Strategies of South Asian Women Workers from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet by Sundari Anitha and Ruth Pearson

In Striking Women: Struggles and Strategies of South Asian Women Workers from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet, Sundari Anitha and Ruth Pearson offer an in-depth examination of two strikes – the Grunwick strike of 1976–78 and the strike at Gate Gourmet in 2005 – to highlight how South Asian migrant women have contributed to the struggle for workers rights in the UK. Praising the book’s incorporation of the wider social and historical context, Amal Shahid finds this an informative and accessible read for those passionate about the history and sociology of labour, gender and migration studies.