Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Video Interview: “Bills of Rights in the Common Law” Featuring Robert Leckey

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

In this installment of our new video interview series at I-CONnect, I interview Robert Leckey on his forthcoming book entitled “Bills of Rights in the Common Law,” to be published by Cambridge University Press in May 2015.

Here is the book’s abstract:

Scholars have addressed at length the ‘what’ of judicial review under a bill of rights–scrutinizing legislation and striking it down–but neglected the ‘how’. Adopting an internal legal perspective, Robert Leckey addresses that gap by reporting on the processes and activities of judges of the highest courts of Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom as they apply their relatively new bills of rights. Rejecting the tendency to view rights adjudication as novel and unique, he connects it to the tradition of judging and judicial review in the Commonwealth and identifies respects in which judges’ activities in rights cases genuinely are novel – and problematic. Highlighting inventiveness in rights adjudication, including creative remedies and guidance to legislative drafters, he challenges classifications of review as strong or weak. Disputing claims that it is modest and dialogic, he also argues that remedial discretion denies justice to individuals and undermines constitutional supremacy.

In the interview, we discuss what prompted this new inquiry into judicial review, why he chose as his case studies Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom, how his book is distinguishable from other works in the field, notably by Stephen GardbaumJanet Hiebert and Mark Tushnet, and what he hopes readers will take away from his book.

Robert Leckey is an Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar at McGill University, Faculty of Law, where he also directs the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law. He teaches constitutional law and family law. A former law clerk for Justice Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada, he holds degrees from Queen’s University, McGill and the University of Toronto. Leckey has earned many scholarly distinctions including the Prix de la Fondation du Barreau du Québec (2007), the Canadian Association of Law Teachers’ Scholarly Paper Prize (2009), the McGill Law Students’ Association’s John W. Durnford Teaching Excellence Award (2009), the Canada Prize of the International Academy of Comparative Law (2010), and the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2010).

The full interview runs 16 minutes, and is available here.


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