Tax Policy, Feminist Theory, Statutory Interpretation, Theoretical Principles
Leading Canadian scholar Ruth Sullivan describes the act of statutory interpretation as a mix of art and archeology. The collection, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions, affirms her assessment. If the act of statutory interpretation requires us to deploy our interdisciplinary talents, at least somewhat unmoored from the constraints of formal expressions of legal doctrine, why haven’t feminists been more inclined to write about statutory interpretation? Put another way, some scholars acknowledge that judges “are subtly influenced by preconceptions, endemic privilegings and power hierarchies, and prevailing social norms and ‘conventional’ wisdom.” Those influences become the background for how judges read legislation. Yet, there is surprisingly little literature about how feminists (or feminist decision-makers) do or could approach statutory interpretation projects.
This essay offers some preliminary reflections on what feminist statutory interpretation entails, using the eleven decisions (and the attendant commentaries) presented in the collection as source material. Ten principles are proposed as a way of generating discussion about an undertheorized area of feminist scholarship (statutory interpretation).
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Kim Brooks, "Feminist Statutory Interpretation" (2019) 16:2 Pittsburgh Tax Rev 125.