Pierre de Vos
Pierre de Vos

Get involved in the Constitutional Court debate

I am running a “competition” over on my Blog to try and stimulate intelligent debate on the looming appointment of four members of our Constitutional Court. There I invite all readers to propose their “dream candidates” for our highest court.

In several judgments — including the Doctors for Life case and the Matatiele case — the Constitutional Court has emphasised the important role that participatory democracy plays in our constitutional order. The problem is that many South Africans are world champions at complaining but far less enthusiastic about actually participating in debates or getting involved in actions to help build a more fair and just society that works for all.

The Judicial Service Commission opened nominations on Monday for four judges to fill vacancies in the Constitutional Court. Until July 15, the commission will accept the names of candidates and it will begin its interview process in Johannesburg on September 5.

So here is the deal.

All the clever, compassionate, obstinate, know-it-all or just plain experienced people out there must surely know lawyers, judges and academics who they think can serve with distinction on our highest court. So you are all invited to “nominate” your dream candidate (or candidates) on the Blog Constitutionally Speaking. Write a short motivation (no more than 350 words) on why you think a particular person will make a good Constitutional Court judge and post it in the comments section of the Blog. To encourage practising lawyers to participate, you are allowed to write under a pseudonym.

Readers are free to debate these “nominations” by either stating agreement or disagreement with a nomination.

I will read all the motivations and other contributions and on July 13 announce the winner of the Constitutionally Speaking competition. The winner will be the person who wrote the best motivation — regardless of whether I agree with the candidature of the person “nominated” or not. If you write a brilliant motivation in support of Judge President John Hlophe, say, you will be adjudged the winner. I cannot offer a prize, but if you find yourself in Cape Town I would be more than happy to buy you dinner.

At the end of the process I will put forward my own own list of “dream candidates” — for what it is worth and will also post my motivations on Thought Leader.

Let us debate and argue and engage! It is OUR democracy and we should get involved. If we do not, why would anyone need to take us seriously when we complain (as we surely will!)