Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do Women Judges Made a Difference?

Donald Songer, an American political scientist, recently published The Transformation of the Supreme Court of Canada: An Empirical Examination with U of T Press. He's not kidding about the "empirical" part; whatever the question, he has compiled and analysed masses of quantifiable data. So, do women judges make a difference to courts?
In the pre-Charter era, conflict on the court was structured by political party, region, and religion. In the post-Charter era, while divisions are still somewhat related to the party of the appointing prime minister, conflict is more often structured by gender. These results appear to confirm the early prediction of Justice Wilson that the appointing of female justices would make a difference. Moreover, the finding of substantial gender differences in the voting patterns of the justices highlights the political significance of the long strides made in Canada compared to much of the common law world regarding the gender diversification of the bench. (page 245)
In other words, yes.

Not that he stresses the conflicts. He also finds "for the past thirty-four years the Supreme Court of Canada has been characterized by very high levels of agreement."
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