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Supreme Tyranny

Justices are public servants whose work-especially if plagiarized from foreign authors-should never escape scrutiny no matter their claim to "dignity of the court" or "independence of the judiciary." We have a greater right to free speech and against global humiliation.

But for speaking out on Justice Del Castillo's plagiarism in the comfort women decision and calling for him to resign, 37 UP LAW professors are now the target of contempt action by the Supreme Court.

Dissenting, Justice Carpio-Morales minced no words:

"The Resolution demonstrates nothing but an abrasive flexing of the judicial muscle that could hardly be characterized as judicious. This knee-jerk response from the Court stares back at its own face, since this judicial act is the one that is 'totally unnecessary, uncalled for and a rash act of misplaced vigilance.'"

"The road embarked by the Court as paved by the Resolution leads the Court into an autocratic pit with only an artificial twig of 'independence of the judiciary' to hang on to somewhere in that precarious cliff where public esteem shall ultimately reckon what 'dignity of the Court' means.  I regret that I could not join in treading such crooked road."

Justice Sereno also stressed:

"Ordering the 37 respondent members of the UP Law Faculty to 'show cause' in this indirect contempt case is like ordering the little boy who exclaimed that 'the emperor has no clothes' to explain why he should not be crucified for his public observation. Xxx There may have been exaggeration in the UP Law Faculty's process of expression, but this tempest is nothing that the Supreme Court has not similarly weathered in the past and faced with equanimity. What is so grievous about this whole contempt proceeding is that it comes in the wake of the gross injury that the Court has inflicted upon the virtue of honesty in learned discourses by labeling plagiarism as not plagiarism in the related case involving one of its members."

International law reminds that: "Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession." (Principle 23, UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, 1990)


Verily, "if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought-not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." Justice Holmes, Dissenting Opinion, US v, Schwimmer (279 U.S. 644 [1929]).