Feminist Judicial Decision-Making as Judicial Decision-Making: A Legitimate and Valuable Approach?

Felicity Adams

Abstract


Feminist legal scholars argue that the rigid, formalist approach towards judicial decision-making is potentially harmful to the lives, experiences, and interests of women.  In critically analysing a feminist re-judgement within Feminist Judgments From Theory to Practice, this dissertation argues that the Feminist Judgments Project represents a legitimate and valuable approach, which effectively re-imagines judicial decision-making in line with women’s interests. This dissertation reinforces feminist judicial decision-making as a more responsive form of judgment making particularly for vulnerable and marginalised women whom regularly experience and are subjected to traditional judicial approaches. Further, the dissertation argues that feminist judicial decision-making constitutes a legitimate and valuable approach despite considerable criticism levelled at this methodology and judges who openly hold feminist beliefs. The dissertation positions the Feminist Judgments Project within the context of the legal realist approach to judicial decision-making, which serves as a critique of the formalist approach to judicial decision-making. The dissertation's analysis of the feminist re-judgment of R v Dhaliwal (R v D)[1] aims to promote the Feminist Judgments Project’s methodological approach as a mode of judicial best practice. This dissertation concludes that feminist judicial decision-making is a legitimate and valuable approach which recognises social inequalities and amplifies marginalised communities, whilst also remaining faithful to legal conventions.

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