Supreme Court agrees to hear voting age challenge
In a short judgment issued today te Kōti Mana Nui o Aotearoa (the New Zealand Supreme Court) granted Make It 16 leave to appeal their human rights case to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal had previously decided that preventing 16 and 17 year-olds from voting is age discrimination and that the Government had not been able to justify that discrimination, but refused to issue a formal declaration of inconsistency with the Bill of Rights. Make It 16 is seeking that declaration from the Supreme Court.
“A formal declaration from the Supreme Court would be a powerful message to Parliament that they should fix this breach of our rights. It would force Parliament and the Government to see this as a priority and boost the movement for change” Make It 16 co-director Cate Tipler (they/them)..
“It is very exciting. This means rangatahi will get their day in the Supreme Court. Preventing me and other 16 and 17 year-olds from voting is unjustified age discrimination. It is a breach of the Bill of Rights” says Tipler.
“This is a great step forward for our movement. We have already gathered nearly 5000 signatures on our petition. The Government has announced an independent electoral law review that will be looking at the voting age. The Supreme Court today agreed with us that this is a matter of general and public importance and agreed to hear our case. It is clear the momentum is strong.” says Tipler.
Make It 16 co-director Sanat Singh (he/him) says the Supreme Court granting leave presents an opportunity to get a formal declaration from the highest court in the country that preventing 16 and 17-year olds from voting is unjustified age discrimination.
“We were both excited and frustrated by the Court of Appeal ruling. Excited because they agreed with us there is age discrimination the Government has not justified, and frustrated because they decided not to issue a formal declaration to say that. We are asking the Supreme Court to formally say there is unjustified age discrimination, because we know there is” says Singh.
The Court of Appeal judgment of French, Miller and Courtney JJ can be found here.
The High Court judgment of Doogue J can be found here.
The electoral law review was announced in this press release.