Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Why do I have to read Supreme Court decisions?

I’m currently revising AU’s course on Human Rights, the Charter and Labour Relations. One of the recurring challenges that students identify is how difficult it can be to read and understand court decisions (specifically Supreme Court of Canada decisions).

While I’m including some skill-building components around reading court decisions, it is useful to reflect on (1) why we need to read these decisions and (2) why they are hard to read. The short video above is about the US Supreme Court but its logic is broadly applicable to Canada.

We need to read the decisions because they establish important legal precedents and explain why these precedents are established. And these decisions are difficult to read because the Supreme Court is a political institution that is seeking to achieve multiple outcomes (including resolving the case) with its decisions.

-- Bob Barnetson

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