Representing Canadian Justice: Iconography and Symbolism at the Supreme Court of Canada

44 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2014 Last revised: 10 Jan 2017

See all articles by David DesBaillets

David DesBaillets

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 3, 2014

Abstract

This paper examines the intersection between a distinctly Canadian legal culture and the legal architecture, symbolism and iconography of its Supreme Court building.

In this paper, I begin from the premise originally put forward in Resnik and Curtis’s study of legal architecture. I proceed with an analysis of the Court’s history, aesthetic and decorative elements, geography and design, artistic and legal vision of the architect, the social, political, and historical contexts in which it was created. As well as key legal and constitutional concepts embodied by its legal architecture and a comparative analysis with another courthouse (The Édifice Ernest Cormier).

The paper demonstrates that the challenge of creating a courthouse that reflects the legal traditions and evolving social norms as well as the aspirations of a dynamic, democratic and pluralistic society, is an impossible one. It remains a problematic question whether the image of justice that the Court evokes is the most “eloquent three dimensional representation of the role the Supreme Court has assumed in the life of the nation.”

Keywords: Supreme Court of Canada, legal semiotics, Canadian constitution, constitutionalism, legal anthropology, Canadian justice, Canadian legal culture, Canadian legal system, comparative legal studies, judicial architecture, Ernest Cormier

Suggested Citation

DesBaillets, David, Representing Canadian Justice: Iconography and Symbolism at the Supreme Court of Canada (September 3, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2491319 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2491319

David DesBaillets (Contact Author)

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Faculty of Law ( email )

PB 8888 Station DownTown
Succursale Centre Ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C3P8
Canada

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