A level - legal - playing field

I know I'm going to get stick for this blog post - so I'm getting my defence in early.

Yes, there are plenty of stories around today that might strike you as more significant, at least more immediately significant -

the latest unemployment figures for one. They're accompanied by the sound of ministers, both in London and in Cardiff, pledging to do what they can to keep people in work and help those out of work. They're accompanied by the Wales TUC telling its Facebook friends that for every job going in Blaenau Gwent, there are 18 people on the dole. They must be a cause of severe concern for those who'd hoped the private sector would pick up where the public sector dropped off. In Wales, these latest statistics suggest that hasn't happened.

There's the sound of the Education Minister putting what must be the last nail in the coffin of the University of Wales.

There's the very same minister telling a committee this morning that claims in the Sunday Times over the weekend that "thousands of European students could have their fees at English universities paid by the Welsh Government because of an anomaly in European Union law" is - and I quote - "tosh". Watch his evidence here.

There's the football and the rugby too. I can tell you the First Minister is planning to travel to New Zealand if ... well let's not tempt fate with ifs but it's what we're all hoping for. Beyond that, as far as rugby's concerned, you know significantly more than I do.

There is one story, though, that won't get much air time today and it's one that will matter very much one day - so here goes:

The Supreme Court has ruled that laws passed by the National Assembly and the Scottish Parliament carry exactly the same legal weight as Acts of Parliament. What it has done is to make the constitutional playing field rather more level.

The judgement came about because of a challenge brought by insurers AXA against a law passed by the Scottish Parliament giving people suffering from an asbestos-related condition the right to claim damages. The insurers had questioned the Scottish Parliament's judgement. The Supreme Court has said its judgement - as an elected body - must be respected.

Remember this man? Well he was there too. The details of the case aren't relevant to Wales but - and it's a big but - the principle is and so the First Minister sent 'our man' to support the Scottish position.

Today's judgement means that a law passed by the National Assembly can only be challenged on the same grounds as parliamentary legislation. Devolved primary legislation is now confirmed as having the same status in law as that passed by Parliament.

The bottom line is that in the view of the Supreme Court judges, whether decisions taken in Cardiff or Edinburgh are reasonable is up to voters to decide, not law courts.

I'll quote Supreme Court judge Lord Reed: ""Law-making by a democratically elected legislature is the paradigm of a political activity, and the reasonableness of the resultant decisions is inevitably a matter of political judgment.

"In my opinion it would not be constitutionally appropriate for the courts to review such decisions on the ground of irrationality.

"Such review would fail to recognise that courts and legislatures each have their own particular role to play in our constitution, and that each must be careful to respect the sphere of action of the other."

It might seem wholly irrelevant now. I promise you that there will come a point where it will matter - a lot.