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  • AQA Component The judiciary: the role of the Supreme Court and its impact on government, legislature and policy process

  • Edexcel Component 2 (UK Government): 4.1: The Supreme Court and its interactions with, and influence over, the legislative and policymaking process

Click to read the article below and then answer the questions:

UK Supreme Court begins hearing on Scottish independence

Background: what you need to know

This article highlights the role of the UK Supreme Court as the body that makes authoritative rulings on constitutional matters. It has been asked to rule on whether the Scottish Government’s intention to hold another independence referendum falls within its legal authority. This is a politically sensitive area.

The UK Government’s position is that there is no justification for another vote so soon after the one held in September 2014, and that a decision on holding such a referendum is not a devolved matter. On the other hand, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Nationalist Party insist that there is a powerful case for a second referendum, outlined in another recent article:

Sturgeon vows to step up fight for Scotland’s independence

It may take several months for the Supreme Court to reach a decision. This makes it more difficult for Sturgeon to organise such a vote by her preferred date of October 2023, should the verdict go her way.

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which the UK Supreme Court can affect the legislative and policymaking process in the UK. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the view that the Supreme Court has too much influence over the political process in the UK.

    In your answer you should draw on relevant knowledge and understanding of the study of Component 1: UK Politics and Core Political Ideas. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: The Supreme Court has ruled on other high-profile constitutional issues since its establishment in 2009. You should know, for example, about the judgments on Article 50 and the Brexit process (2017) and on Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament (2019).

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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