For many years, feminist scholars from a variety of disciplines have theorized how to achieve gender justice. Relatively recently, a group of international legal scholars in several democracies have engaged the question of gender justice in a more practical context: would judicial decision making on gender issues change if judges were informed by feminist theories and methods and would the result be a path to gender justice?
Working independently, eight different Feminist Judgments groups in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India and across Europe have so far addressed or are addressing those questions. As valuable as these independent endeavors are, this workshop at the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law opens a dialogue between and among the scholars leading these efforts. The opportunity to consider these projects comparatively has the potential to reap exceptional benefits.
The workshop provides the setting and the essential participants for a structured conversation that begins to explore and assess how different socio-legal contexts affect the various Feminist Judgments projects. In doing so, the participants will chart a new path for future projects that integrate judging and feminism. The workshop will start the process of identifying common core principles, encouraging cross-cultural perspectives, and proposing directions for future scholarship. For example, the contexts for the various Feminist Judgments initiatives are affected by distinct historical, social, cultural, and political forces; these contexts are defined by similar, but not identical, legal and judicial systems; and they likely are influenced by disparately constructed understandings of how the law, language, and legal reasoning relate to one another. A conversation about these differences and their impact promises to shed new light on the quest for gender justice.
The IISL workshop, Feminist Judgments: Comparative Socio-Legal Perspectives on Judicial Decision Making and Gender Justice, brings together the scholars who have organized wide-ranging collaborative projects to produce alternative feminist judgments in international law and within the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India and across Europe. Each of these independent projects is at a different point in its initial exploration of the ways in which feminist perspectives play out within decision-making processes of the relevant courts. The workshop participants will first compare the feminist themes and jurisprudential findings that have emerged from the work of re-imagining opinion writing in the United States Supreme Court, the Canadian Supreme Court, the UK Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, the Supreme Court of Ireland, the Australia High Court, the New Zealand Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of India, or the European Court of Human Rights.