19 Rev. Const. Stud. 237 (2014-2015)
Is Originalism Bad for Women - The Curious Case of Canada's Equal Rights Amendment

handle is hein.journals/revicos19 and id is 240 raw text is: 





Is   Originalism Bad for Women? The Curious

Case of Canada's Equal Rights Amendment'


KerriA. Froc2


Originalism  is a  body   of theories about
constitutional interpretation  that  gained
popularity in the United States in the 1980s.
These theories maintain that the meaning of
constitutional provisions is fixed at the time
of framing   and  ratification and that the
popularly understood  meaning  of the words
at that time (or the original intentions of the
drafters) is authoritative. While originalism
purports  to have  a  positivist orientation,
some  American  scholars have argued that it
is mere  subterfuge for conservative judicial
activism and is better understood as a populist
rhetoricalpractice that has invigorated radical,
conservative political movements. This article
argues that feminist theorists should reconsider
their outright dismissal of originalist theories
as deleterious for women's rights, and instead
conduct  a deeper analysis that weighs their
as-yet unexplored potential benefits against
the well-documented  risks, using the example
of section 28  of the Canadian  Charter  of
Rights  and Freedoms  as a case in point. The
application oforiginalistprinciples, at least for
the interpretation of section 28, is a critical
step in moving  women  towards  having truly
equal access to Charter rights.


L'originalisme est un  ensemble  de thiories
portant sur l'interpritation constitutionnelle
qui  gagna   en populariti  aux  Etats-Unis
dans  les annies 1980. Selon ces thdories, la
signification des dispositions constitution nelles
est arritle au moment de la formulation et de
la ratification et la signification communiment
accordde aux mots h l'epoque (ou les intentions
initiales des ridacteurs)fait autoriti. Bien que
l'originalisme pritende avoir une orientation
positiviste, certains chercheurs itats-uniens
ont soutenu qu'il s'agit d'un simple subterfuge
pour   l'ctivisme judiciaire conservateur et
il est mieux  compris  comme   une pratique
de   rhitorique  populiste  ayant   revigord
des   mouvements   politiques  conservateurs
radicaux. L'auteur de cet article soutient que
les thdoriciensffiministes devraient reconsidirer
leur rejet categorique des thdories originalistes
comme   nuisible aux droits desfemmes et mener
plutdt une  analyse plus approfondie mettant
en  balance les avantages iventuels jusqu'alors
inexplors et les risques solidement documentis
Sl'aidede l'zrticle28 dela Charte canadienne
des droits et libertis comme exemple typique.
L'pplication  de  principes originalistes, du
moins  pour  l'interpritation de larticle 28,
est un pas critique pour mener lesfemmes vers
l'obtention d'un accis viritablement igal aux
droits garantis par la Charte.


I This title takes its inspiration from provocative titles of feminist works such as Beverley Baines, Is
   Constitutionalism Bad for Intersectional Feminists? (2010) 28:3 Penn St L Rev 427; Susan Moller
   Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? in Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, & Martha C
   Nussbaum, eds, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999)
   7; and some originalist writing, such as James Allen, The Curious Concept of the 'Living Tree'
   (or Non-Locked-In) Constitution in Grant Huscroft & Bradley W Miller, eds, The Challenge
   of Originalism: Theories of Constitutional Interpretation (New York: Cambridge University Press,
   2011) 179. A version of this paper was presented at a March 2013 conference in Lisbon, Portugal,
   entitled, Pluralism, Inclusion and Citizenship: A Diversity and Recognition Project hosted by
   Inter-Disciplinary.Net.
2  Ph.D. (Candidate), Faculty of Law, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Trudeau and
   Vanier Scholar.


237

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