Are Women Persons? The “Persons” Case

Jan 01 1970 Tags: canada, canadian, equality, female, feminism, gender, history, magistrate, person's case, rights, woman, women, women's

Emily Murphy (born Emily Gowan Ferguson; 14 March 1868 to 17 October 1933) — a Canadian women's rights activist, jurist, and author. In 1916, she became the first female magistrate in Canada, and in the British Empire. She is best known for her contributions to Canadian feminism, specifically to the question of whether women were "persons" under Canadian law.

Murphy is known as one of the "The Famous Five" (also called "The Valiant Five")[1]—a group of Canadian women's rights activists that also included Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby. In 1927, the women launched the "Persons Case," contending that women could be "qualified persons" eligible to sit in the Senate. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that they were not. However, upon appeal to the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council, the court of last resort for Canada at that time, the women won their case.[2] read more...

Edwards v Canada (AG)[1]—also known as the Persons Case—is a famous Canadian constitutional case that decided that women were eligible to sit in the Canadian Senate. The case, put forward by the Government of Canada on the lobbying of a group of women known as the Famous Five, began as a reference case in the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that women were not "qualified persons" and thus ineligible to sit in the Senate. The case then went to the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council, at that time the court of last resort for Canada within the British Empire and Commonwealth. The Judicial Committee overturned the Supreme Court's decision.

The Persons Case was a landmark case in two respects. First, it established that Canadian women were eligible to be appointed senators. Second, it established what came to be known as the "living tree doctrine", which is a doctrine of constitutional interpretation that says that a constitution is organic and must be read in a broad and liberal manner so as to adapt it to changing times. read more...

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