On the judicial appointment process in Thailand: Possible changes worse than a military coup…
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On the judicial appointment process in Thailand: Possible changes worse than a military coup…

The Bangkok Post:

Witthaya Kaewparadai, Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat, accused the ruling Pheu Thai Party of attempting to overthrow the court system.

“The ultimate goal of the rewrite is to control the courts. They’ve already drafted that the Constitution and Administrative Courts must go because they are uncontrollable,” he said.

“As for the other courts that cannot be dissolved, they are aiming to grant parliament the power to appoint the chief of the Courts of Justice. This would be even worse than a military coup.”

BP: There are different systems around the world in appointing judges. In the US, senior judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.  In the UK, the Lord Chancellor (a Cabinet-level position) appoints judges. Wikipedia states:

Senior judges (Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lords Justices of Appeal and the Heads of the Divisions of the High Court) are officially appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, but since 2005 the Lord Chancellor has been advised by an independent Judicial Appointments Commission and can only choose whether to accept or reject its recommendations.

BP: Having said that, the judiciary in the UK has much limited powers of judicial review particularly in overturning legislation.

For the Constitutional Court, Section 206 of the 2007 Constitution sets out the process:

The selection and election of judges of the Constitutional Court under section 204 (3) and (4) shall be proceeded as follows:

(1) there shall be a Selective Committee for Judges of the Constitutional Court consisting of the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, the President of the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the President of the Constitutional independent organisations whom elected among themselves to be one in number, as members. The Selective Committee must complete the selection under section 204 (3) and (4) within thirty days as from the date a ground for the selection occurs and then nominates the selected persons, with their consents, to the President of the Senate. The selection resolution shall be by open votes and passed by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of the existing members of the Selective Committee. In the case where there is no member in any position or a member is unable to perform his duty and the number of the remaining members is not less than one-half thereof, the Selective Committee shall consist of the remaining members; provided that the provisions of section 113 paragraph two shall apply mutatis mutandis;

(2) the President of the Senate shall convoke a sitting of the Senate for the passing of approval resolution to the selected persons under (1) within thirty days as from the date of receipt of the nomination. A resolution shall be made by secret ballot. In case of approval resolution, the President of the Senate shall tender the nominated persons to the King for His appointment. In the case where the Senate disapproves the nomination, whether wholly or partly, it shall be returned to the Selective Committee for reselection. In such case, if the Selective Committee disagrees with the Senate and reaffirms its resolution unanimously, the names of the selected person shall be nominated to the President of the Senate to present to the King for His appointment, but if the reaffirmation is not passed by unanimous resolution, the reselection shall be commenced and it shall complete within thirty days as from the date a ground for the selection occurs.

If it is unable to complete the selection under (1) within the specified period by any cause, the Supreme Court of Justice shall, at its general meeting, appoint three judges of the Supreme Court of Justice holding a position of not lower than a judge of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Administrative Court shall, at its general meeting, appoint two judges of the Supreme Administrative Court to be members of the Selective Committee for the carrying out the duty under (1)

BP: Thailand has adopted a system that takes the UK selection committee and the approval from the Senate of the US although in Thailand, the Senate consists of Elected and Appointed Senators. There are no clear proposals about possible changes, but would it really be outrageous if Cabinet or the Prime Minister nominated judges for the Senate to approve? You could even have a Selection Committee who proposes a list of names. As outrageous as a military coup?

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