'Introduction' in Elizabeth Sheehy, Ed, Adding Feminism to Law: The Contributions of Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé
“Introduction” in Elizabeth Sheehy, ed, Adding Feminism to Law: The Contributions of Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé. Toronto: Irwin Law, 2004, pp. 5-34.
30 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2013
Date Written: 2004
This book celebrates Claire L’Heureux-Dubé’s judicial career and considers the unique ways in which her work as a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada has enhanced women’s equality and a feminist analysis of law, and thus concretely, the quality of life for Canadian women. The papers in this book suggest several themes that stand out from Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé’s more then two decades on the bench. The first theme is her contribution to the enterprise of judging and its relationship to democracy. Her methodological approach to judgment writing reflects her intellectual curiosity and respect for academic research as well as for the grassroots experience of community groups and organizations. No other judge has so ably demonstrated a facility with a contextual approach to legal analysis or as long a reach to comparative law sources. She has shown leadership to other women in the profession, as well as judges, by her intellectual honesty and courage in unmasking judicial “neutrality” and taking unpopular positions in her judgments.
The second theme looks at L’Heureux-Dubé J.’s substantive contributions to specific areas of law. This theme traces the doctrinal shifts that her judgments aspired to, sometimes as carefully negotiated majority opinions, sometimes as powerful dissents that were so persuasive to the public that they later reappeared in the form of federal law reforms, and sometimes in lone dissents whose promise has yet to be realized. In this part of the book, the essays interrogate her judgments in the areas of family law, human rights law, the law governing taxation, immigration law, and the law of sexual assault.
The third theme examines Claire L’Heureux-Dubé’s commitment to women, to substantive equality in our society, and to other rights-seeking groups. This commitment was evidenced by her invocation of substantive equality as the touchstone for almost every legal issue that she analyzed. Here the authors comment upon L’Heureux-Dubé J.’s reliance upon understandings of substantive over formal equality, the backlash that her judgments have generated, the influence of her analytical approach in equality jurisprudence on other nations, as well as the advances her judgments marked in the areas of access to justice, lesbian and gay rights, and Aboriginal rights in Canada.
Keywords: Claire L’Heureux-Dubé’s, Supreme Court of Canada, enhanced women's equality, feminist analysis of law, Canadian women, quality of life, powerful dissents, family law, human rights law, taxation, immigration law, sexual assault law, commitment to women, substantive equality, equality jurisprudence
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