U.K. Supreme Court

After Westminster Abby, I happened by a door that said ‘Visitor’s Entrance,’ so I entered. “What is this place?” I asked the guard inside. “The Supreme Court,” he said. “You should come in.” OK, I will.

Since I didn’t know what I was doing, after I passed my bag through security, I followed a family of tourists to a hearing that was recommencing. Anyone is allowed to stroll in off the street, though not many visitors showed up to hear that day’s issue: “Whether the British citizenship of children to a mother who is deported is a special or decisive factor in the Article 8 balancing exercise; and whether the father of the children being practically unlikely to be able to visit them abroad means that his Article 8 rights should prevail over the interest in deportation.”

The atmosphere in the courtroom was rather sleepy—at this point in the game all sides had long since finished their arguments—but the case interested me. The female appellant arrived in the U.K. from Tanzania in 1995. Her asylum application was denied and she applied twice more under different identities. During this time, she had two children with a British man, they’re no longer together and now he has AIDS. The mother is arguing she should be able to stay in the U.K. to take care of her children, though the Secretary of State rejected this claim in 2008.

As you saw in the picture introducing this post (I snapped the photo on a TV outside the courtroom so as not to distract), certain members of the court wear unflattering, ratty wigs. You see, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has a grand tradition dating back to—2009! That’s right, Americans, let us pat ourselves on the back for having at least one thing before the Brits.

“The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in the United Kingdom. It was created in 2009 to achieve complete transparency and separation between our senior judges and the Upper House of Parliament…New Justices are appointed by the Queen and sworn in at a ceremony where they take the Oath of Allegiance and the Judicial Oath. They are addressed in court as ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady.’”

After I watched part of the trial, I went downstairs and had mushroom soup and a roll in the Supreme Court cafeteria. Total amount spent: 1 pound 30 pence—take that Westminster Abby!