Professor Constance Backhouse has been awarded the Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize for her book Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: A Life (University of British Columbia Press). The CLSA Book Prize is awarded annually for the best book on law and society published in the previous year in English or in French.
Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: A Life is a judicial biography of one of Canada’s most controversial judges. Professor Backhouse offers a prodigious amount of research, probing beneath the surface of Justice L’Heureux-Dubé’s life and career to uncover the multiple dimensions in which one of Canada’s early woman judges trod a distinct course. Explicitly designed to be a “feminist” judicial biography, it asks new questions, analyzes historical data differently, and offers innovative interpretations that place gender, class, ethnicity, and race at the heart of the inquiry.
In its citation for the book, the CLSA praised the biography as follows:
“In light of continued academic and public scrutiny of the Supreme Court and how its justices render their decisions (from sexual assault to the recent Comeau ruling), we feel this work is worth reading now. Due to the scope and ambition of the project, and the deceptive ease with which Backhouse has executed it, we expect this work will be read for years to come. [. . .] Thematically rich, while resisting too tidy a picture of the narrative it presents, the book speaks to the contingency and complexity, not only of the lives we lead, but of how the law shapes individuals, while being shaped by them. [. . .] The book offers an interesting window on judicial decision making at the federal level, but more than that, it offers an opportunity to meditate on the myriad decisions that shape a life in—and the life of—the law.”
Congratulations to Professor Backhouse on this exceptional achievement!