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HomeIllinois NewsRuth Bader Ginsburg and Brenda Hale: Creating law from the bench

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brenda Hale: Creating law from the bench



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Since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, the democratic institutions of England (and by extension the United Kingdom) have been engaged in a careful dance with the monarch.  The monarch is obligated to respect democracy and the democracy is obligated to respect the Crown’s sovereignty.  This is a complex arrangement that has no analog in the United States.

So when the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled that the September “prorogation” (or suspension) of Parliament was unlawful, even interested legal experts in the United States had difficulty parsing the opinion handed down on September 24.  What was not difficult to see, however, was the swell of popular attention given to Lady Brenda Hale, the president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. To many, the ruling that she read seems to have been invented for the purposes of the outcome.

Most judges never attain celebrity status, but Lady Hale has secured a rare popular prominence that is not unlike that of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an American judge of similar jurisprudential and social sensibilities.  Lady Hale is more than a decade Justice Ginsburg’s junior, but the similarities between them are remarkable.  Both were law professors at some of the most prestigious institutions in their countries, both married eminent legal scholars, and both served as judges on lower courts before being seated on their nations’ highest courts.  Lady Hale is Beyoncé to Ginsburg’s Notorious B.I.G.  Both are peculiarly noted for unique fashion trends — Lady Hale for her brooches and Justice Ginsburg for her jabots.



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