Interesting query

I have mentioned before the range of material we receive from organised interests as well as members of the public.  I recently had one query, which was certainly different, albeit not unique in terms of some of the unusual requests we receive.  

I was e-mailed (as I think were other peers) from someone residing overseas who wrote:

“I would like to sue God for His utter negligence on earthly affairs. How can I file a lawsuit against Him at the Supreme Court of Great Britain?

Like Nebraska Democratic State Senator Ernie Chambers, I want to seek a permanent injunction against God.”

I have  a suspicion that the Supreme Court would class this as non-justiciable!


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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17 Responses to Interesting query

  1. Liam says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t find this point of view illogical, assuming a god or gods exist. It does — or they do — behave with negligence; so much so that the present state of affairs is indistinguishable from what things would be like if there were no god(s) at all.

    I agree on it being a strange — and non-justiciable — request, however.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Liam: Yes, but (a) would it come within the jurisdiction of a UK court, and (b) even if it did, how would a judgment be enforced?

      • Liam says:

        I already agreed with that point, see the little note at the bottom of my post. The answers are, of course, (a) no; (b) it couldn’t.

        I even checked the definition of ‘justiciable’! 🙂

      • djb13 says:

        One would have to argue that God resides in the United Kingdom. I think some of the Welsh may be to able to testify to the veracity of this.

      • djb13 says:

        I’ve been thinking about enforcement. Clearly God makes some profit from His alleged activities (via donations to Churches) which he (pending court judgement) is negligent in completing. If God were found guilty, the state could freeze his monetary assets until He presents himself for the court ordered punishment. That said, the history of deital prosecution has shown that in all cases the defendant had sucessfully evaded punishment; legal records show that on one occasion the defendant was sentenced to death, but after a short delay was shown to have avoided his punishment.

  2. I seem to recall in one case where an American wanted to sue God (not sure if it was Ernie Chambers) the case was thrown out on the grounds that no address could be found at which to serve papers.

  3. Croft says:

    “I have a suspicion that the Supreme Court would class this as non-justiciable!”

    Only after a long and expensive pre-trial hearing!

  4. djb13 says:

    There is actually some precedent on this matter (believe it or not). In the United States a man (Gerald Mayo) tried to sue Satan, who as a former employee of God, might well be considered to be in the same legal situation as God.

    It was decided that Satan is within the sole jurisdiction of the United States, although the case was dismissed on a technicality as Mayo was unable to provide an address for Satan.

    So, it is within legal precedent in a liberal democracy within the 20th Century for heavenly beings to part of the jurisdiction of a particular earthly state. I wonder if anyone can develop of chain of legal reasoning that any particular English or British document establishes that God is within UK jurisidiction? I’ve had a go with the Magna Carta, but I couldn’t really make anything of it. I wonder if the article of disestablishment of the English church from Rome are helpful?

  5. Dean B says:

    I wonder if the Kingdom of Heaven has a more favourably balanced extradition treaty with the USA than we do?

  6. Lord Norton says:

    In the light of the contribution from djb13, would Satan have an arguable case at an employment tribunal?

    • Croft says:

      Clearly the church have made for a hostile work environment for Satan amounting to constructive dismissal.

      • Ashley Roden-Bow says:

        I think a dismissal for gross misconduct of Satan would be upheld by the courts.

      • djb13 says:

        Is there any legal precedent for dismissal following a armed insurrection against your boss? I don’t know if any of the Confederacy governors tried to sue the Union during Reconstruction; it being the US I shouldn’t be surprised.

      • Lord Norton says:

        djb13: During the American Civil War, there wasn’t too much emphasis on legal niceties. Abraham Lincoln famously put a note of a judgment of the Supreme Court in his pocket, saying it was up to the court to enforce it. In any event, after the court’s holding – and Chief Justice Taney’s obiter dictum – in Dred Scott v Sandford, the court was rather on the defensive.

  7. Lord Norton says:

    This is excellent – better than a caption competition!

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