Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

The Canadian angle to the Ugandan High Court’s ruling

Follow-up on Tom’s very timely coverage of the Ugandan High Court decision forbidding a tabloid newspaper from publishing the names and pictures of suspected homosexuals (and urging that they be killed). The CBC reports on the Canadian angle to this story: the Ugandan decision cited with approval a 2002 Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench decision upholding penalties imposed by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission upon a private individual who had taken out an anti-gay advertisement in a newspaper. As the CBC story points out – but the Ugandan ruling apparently does not – the Queen’s Bench ruling was later reversed by Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal.

Presumably it comes as little surprise to readers of this blog to learn that a particular constitutional court has a sense of what its counterparts in other countries are doing. But is it slightly more surprising for a trial court in Uganda to know about trial court rulings from the Canadian plains?


2 responses to “The Canadian angle to the Ugandan High Court’s ruling”

  1. Dominic J. Nardi, Jr. Avatar

    Interesting point. It also raises the question of how judicial decisions and ideas are transmitted across countries. There do seem to be some formal mechanisms to bring judges from common law countries together, such as the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association. Has anybody done a study assessing various modes of constitutional transmission?

  2. David Law Avatar

    My own sense is that empirical work that assesses the actual impact of different modes of transmission (as opposed to simply identifying different modes, and offering anecdotal evidence that they matter) is badly needed! But that kind of research has some real methodological challenges to overcome. What methodology can be used to measure the actual impact of a particular transmission mechanism? Both the inputs and the outputs are hard to quantify. (Warning: shameless plug ahead) Wen-Chen Chang of National Taiwan University and I are working on an empirical piece on the impact of “transnational judicial dialogue” in Taiwan, and one thing we can document, based on a combination of quantitative analysis and interviews with the justices, is that judicial “dialogue” (in the sense of direct communication between judges of different countries, in both formal and informal settings) is not an important determinant of foreign law usage or importation by Taiwan’s Constitutional Court. The truly important variables appear to be institutional in nature, having to do with the organization of the court, the judiciary, and legal education as a whole. Hopefully this is at least a start. More work in this vein is definitely needed.

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