Tag Archives: Carissima Mathen

Supreme Court Appointments: Links, Thoughts

Here are a couple of comments which appeared on U of O’s “Blogging for Equality” site, from Carissima Mathen  (“In a sense, we are all trying to read tea leaves. It is difficult to know how, exactly, any individual will fare in the Supreme Court’s rarified corridors”) and Jenna McGill (“we are not operating under the delusion that female-ness is a proxy for feminist, nor that every female judge will be a champion of equality”).  See also Osgoode Profs Hutchinson and Ryder in various newspapers here    here and here.  And of course (sorry for the late addition) the Dean, Lorne Sossin, here (true to his heart, he focuses on process).

Now I’ve become more interested in the nature of the coverage than the appointments themselves. I see that the NDP is officially opposing Moldaver J.’s appointment because he is not bilingual which makes some sense. But I’m intrigued by Kirk Makin (G&M Justice reporter)  easy comment re Karakatsanis J’s appointment, that it would “forestall feminist criticism by maintaining the court’s complement of female judges at four” (see @osgoodeifls twitter feed for my immediate reaction: “really? are we that easy to please?”).

And I’m interested in this short bio piece on Karakatsanis J. from the Hamilton Spectator, which reveals more about her early life as an immigrant, as a waitress in her family’s greek restaurant at Don Mills and Lawrence, and about her partner, his struggle with MS, and his own modest background.  These things aren’t indicative of her views (just recently, we got these stats, for instance).  But they are still interesting and paint a fuller picture of this woman.  She is getting a rather rough ride,, and at the same time as I’m hard pressed to support her, I’m disturbed by the ease with which merit based arguments are raised against her.  Of course they are! Merit is such a problematic measure.  It isn’t meaningless, but it means something different to each person who uses the phrase.  In these contexts, male dominated professions, highly contested appointments – it makes me unhappy.  Karakatsanis J is no Sonia Sotomayor (so many points of difference!), and she’s no Harriet Miers, either – but some of the themes and tropes in the critiques feel altogether too similar.