2024 Hallows Lecture: Roots of the Living Tree

Open to Public
2024 Hallows Lecture: Roots of the Living Tree
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Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall
1215 West Michigan Street
Milwaukee, WI
United States

Roots of the Living Tree: The Growth of Constitutional Interpretation in Canada

Presented by

The Honourable Suzanne Côté
Supreme Court of Canada

Monday, March 4, 2023
4:30 to 5:30 pm - Lecture (1 CLE)
5:30 pm - Public Reception
Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall  |  Lubar Center 

Canada’s 1982 Constitution Act provides that the Constitution is the supreme law of the country. Constitutional supremacy requires that the law and its interpretation must be consistent with the Constitution. But how is Canada’s constitution itself to be interpreted? Since the early 20th century, the country’s courts have characterized the Constitution as a “living tree,” capable of growth and expansion within its natural limits. While it is therefore a constitution that accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life, the natural limits include but are not limited to the constitutional text itself and its associated written and unwritten principles. This lecture details the growth and development of the Supreme Court of Canada’s constitutional interpretation. The discussion naturally explores the ever-evolving Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the influence that U.S. and international laws have had on the court’s approach.

Hon. Suzanne Côté serves on the Supreme Court of Canada. Before her judicial appointment in 2014, Justice Côté practiced law in Montréal, specializing in complex litigation, and in her native Gaspé Peninsula. She has been a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 2005. Justice Côté has taught evidence and litigation at the École du Barreau du Québec and has also lectured at the Université du Québec à Rimouski and the Université de Montréal. She received an LL.B. from Université Laval before being called to the Quebec Bar in 1981.

This lecture remembers E. Harold Hallows, a Milwaukee lawyer and a faculty member at Marquette Law School from 1930 to 1958 and a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 1958 to 1974 (chief justice the last six years).

Hon. Suzanne Côté

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