Both in the United States and Canada there are legitimate concerns about bringing greater diversity to the bench. There have been areas of spectacular success and there have been areas where it seems like no progress — or even regression — has occurred. Now there is a novel approach to the issue from a law professor in Canada.
David M. Tanovich is a law professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, where he teaches in the areas of criminal law and legal ethics. He wrote in The Globe & Mail:
The latest round of federal judicial appointments in Ontario has further entrenched inequality in our courts and has led me to think about the following provocative question: Should white male lawyers have an ethical duty to say no the next time the federal justice minister comes calling, in order to force systemic change? In my view, the answer is yes.
It is not an understatement to say that we are in the midst of a crisis of representativeness in our federal judiciary.
For example, since 2012, 46 practising lawyers (including three professors) have been appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice or Court of Appeal by Conservative justice ministers. Just over three quarters (78 per cent) of the appointments have been men (36/46). Only one of the appointments appears to be from a racial minority, although an exact number cannot be discerned because of the government’s refusal to collect this necessary information. Things aren’t much better in the other provinces or in the elevation of judges from the provincial to federal courts.
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