ERIC Number: EJ821899
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Reference Count: N/A
Public Education, Constitutional Values and the Supreme Court of Canada: Has Our Highest Court Offered a Balanced Approach to Judicial Decision-Making?
Clarke, Paul T.
Education and the Law, v16 n2-3 p145-172 2004
Since the advent of the "Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms", the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has rendered judgments in four cases where individual educational stakeholders have alleged violations of their constitutional rights. In three of the cases, "R. v. Jones", "Eaton v. Brant County Board of Education", and "R. v. MRM", decisions of educational authorities have been the subject of challenge. A Board of Inquiry's decision has been contested in a fourth case, "Ross v. New Brunswick School District No. 15". The court has also adjudicated two decisions affecting the constitutional rights interests of individual educational stakeholders on the basis of administrative law principles. These decisions are: "Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers" and "Chamberlain v. Surrey School District No. 36". In four of the six cases ("Jones", "Ross", "Eaton" and "MRM"), the SCC has upheld the decisions of the educational authorities and a Board of Inquiry as those decisions have affected the constitutional rights of parents ("Jones" and "Eaton"), a teacher ("Ross") and a student ("MRM"). Nonetheless, the highest court has chosen to set aside two decisions of educational authorities ("TWU" and "Chamberlain") where those authorities have rendered decisions in accordance with an exercise of delegated power. Although the SCC did not decide these two cases on the basis of the "Charter", the legal analysis is informed by a consideration of conflicting constitutional values: freedom of religion versus equality rights. In this paper, the author attempts to ascertain whether the SCC has struck an appropriate balance between affirming and overturning the decisions of educational authorities and a Board of Inquiry as those decisions have affected the constitutional rights and interests of individual stakeholders in the public schools. Hence, in this analysis, three basic questions emerge. First, in four cases, why has the court chosen to uphold the decisions of educational authorities and a Board of Inquiry? Second, in two other cases, why has the same court decided to overturn the decisions of school officials? Third, do the reasons offered by the SCC allow everyone to make sense of this judicial divide? (Contains 105 notes.)
Descriptors: Court Litigation, Foreign Countries, Public Education, Constitutional Law, State Church Separation, Justice, Audits (Verification), Compliance (Legal), Educational Malpractice, Federal Courts, Values, Civil Rights
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms