Canadian Supreme Court justice to deliver Harlan Lecture

Princeton University will host a public appearance by Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall. Abella will deliver this year's John Marshall Harlan '20 Lecture in Constitutional Adjudication, titled "Global Justice: The Power and the Pity." In her remarks, Abella will explore the relationship between international law, democracy and global policy in enforcing human rights objectives, and address the question, Is international law doing its job in the area of human rights?

This talk is sponsored by the Program in Law and Public Affairs, and is free and open to the public. Robertson Hall is located at the corner of Washington Road and Prospect Avenue.

** NOTE FOR MEDIA: This event is open to print reporters and photographers only. No broadcast recording of the event is permitted. For more information, contact Judi Rivkin at (609) 258-8377 or**

Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004. She attended the University of Toronto, where she earned a B.A. and an LL.B., and graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano. Called to the Ontario Bar in 1972, she practiced civil and criminal litigation until 1976 when she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court.
Abella was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1992. She was the sole commissioner of the 1984 federal Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, in which she created the term and concept of "employment equity," a new strategy for reducing barriers in employment faced by women, aboriginal people, non-whites and persons with disabilities. The theories of "equality" and "discrimination" she developed in her report were adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its first decision dealing with equality rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The report has been implemented by the governments of Canada, New Zealand, Northern Ireland and South Africa.

She subsequently served as chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board; chair of the Ontario Law Reform Commission; and Boulton Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University. Abella also was a Distinguished Visiting Faculty lecturer at the University of Toronto Law School. She has given hundreds of lectures and speeches in Canada and internationally, written more than 80 articles, and written or co-edited four books. She has been awarded the International Justice Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation; the Human Relations Award of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews; the Honourable Walter S. Tarnopolsky Human Rights Award; and 29 honorary degrees. Abella was born in a Displaced Persons Camp in Stuttgart, Germany, and came to Canada as a child. She is married to Canadian historian Irving Abella, and they have two sons, both lawyers. She is the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Harlan Lecture celebrates the legacy of Harlan, the eighth U.S. Supreme Court justice to graduate from Princeton (current Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. '72, Sonia Sotomayor '76 and Elena Kagan '81 are the ninth, 10th, and 11th).

Previous Harlan Lecturers include: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (inaugural Harlan Lecturer, 2003); Justice Dieter Grimm, former justice of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and current rector, Wissenschaftskollege, Berlin; Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Stuart Rabner '82, chief justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

The Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA) explores the role of law in politics, society, the economy and culture in the United States, in countries around the world, and across national borders. Through its programming, teaching and research initiatives, LAPA combines the multidisciplinary expertise of Princeton's faculty with the knowledge and perspectives provided by leading academics and practical experts on American, international and comparative law to create an exciting new forum in which to address the complex problems of the 21st century.