Posted on July 19, 2017 by Chester Ronning Centre

On September 14, 2017, in the Roger Epp Conference Room at noon, Patrick Hart will lead a discussion on the case of Wall v the Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Justice for (W)all?: Judicial Interference in Religious Decisions and the case of Wall v Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In a 2016 ruling, Wall v Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Alberta Court of Appeal affirmed that the judiciary could review a religious tribunal’s decision to expel one of its members. But on April 13, 2017, the Supreme Court granted leave to hear this case, meaning that the final ruling in this matter has yet to be delivered. The ramifications of this ruling will be rather significant, particularly in terms of how the Supreme Court ultimately addresses a pivotal question: in what circumstances is judicial interference in religious affairs warranted? In my view, the court’s approach to such a question must involve very careful deliberation, given the judiciary’s general reticence to involve itself in religious disputes – for as former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci once stated, “judicial determinations of theological or religious disputes, or of contentious matters of religious doctrine, unjustifiably entangle the court in the affairs of religion.”

A $5 lunch is available upon request, register with Deb at augalum@ualberta.ca or (780) 679-1626.

This lecture is a partnership between the Augustana Alumni Office and the Chester Ronning Centre.

Patrick Hart is a civil litigation lawyer practicing at Jackie Handerek & Forester in Leduc, and is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Alberta.


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