The Dissent: Challenging the Status Quo
“A dissent is an appeal to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of a future day, when a later decision may possibly correct the error into which the dissenting judge believes the court to have been betrayed.”
We begin this chapter of Juris Diction in the spirit of the words of former Chief Justice of the United States Charles E. Hughes.
Law School is a space to challenge these realities that are often taken for granted. Our classes are filled with intelligent people who come to different conclusion regarding normative questions such as “what should the law be?”
In any healthy legal system, dissenting opinions provide the opportunity to challenge dominant ideas that may have taken root in the social, political, and legal realms but are in need of change. In a 2000 article published in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé wrote that she believes in the value of the dissent because of its “prophetic potential”.
The legal realm is fraught with practices and traditions that are often blindly followed. Our column, The Dissent, is a space that will attempt to offer perspectives that may challenge our acquiescence to the status quo—or it may just present ideas that everyone is thinking but doesn’t want to say. If dominant ideas are to remain dominant, they should be able to withstand rigorous and thoughtful debate.
If dominant ideas are to remain dominant, they should be able to withstand rigorous and thoughtful debate.
Contrary to what the name implies, in no way is The Dissent a space for adversarialism. Instead, we hope to offer a space where ideas are offered, built upon if they present value, or discarded if they don’t. A space where ideas are presented to contribute to a greater collective understanding of the role of the law in society and the challenges it presents moving forward.
In the words of Justice Bora Laskin, ‘The Great Dissenter’: “The precious right to dissent… when exercised, brings into sharper focus the area or nature of the differences between the decision of the Court and the views of those judges who are in disagreement. The result would be a more orderly process of growth.”
The Dissent will be a regularly appearing column in Juris Diction. It is written jointly by Nika Farahani and Sheida Rezapour, two 3L students.