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Significant decisions of the Supreme Court

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R v. MORGENTALER, 1988 Henry Morgentaler and two colleagues were charged with conducting illegal abortions. The court ruled 5-2 that the administrative procedures were cumbersome and unjustifiably interfered with the body integrity of women.

Thomas Szlukovenyi/The Globe and Mail/Thomas Szlukovenyi/The Globe and Mail

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IRWIN TOY, 1989 The company challenged a 1980 Quebec consumer provision prohibiting advertising on television programs aimed at children under 13. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the province, for the first time defining the scope of freedom of expression and the circumstances in which governments may receive deference.

Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail/Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

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R v. KEEGSTRA, 1990 The accused was charged with willfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group by communicating anti-Semitic statements to his students. The court upheld the validity of the offence on the basis that there is a rational connection between prohibiting hate propaganda and fostering multiculturalism.

Randy Fiedler/Randy Fiedler

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SUE RODRIGUEZ v. BRITISH COLUMBIA, 1993 The Court held 5-4 that a Criminal Code provision prohibiting aiding a person to commit suicide goes to the heart of the sanctity of human life and did not infringe on the right to life, liberty and security or the right to equality. Ms. Rodriguez, 42, had a degenerative disease and just a year to live.

Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press/Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press

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VRIEND v. ALBERTA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, 1998 A college teacher fired because of his homosexuality argued that provincial human-rights legislation should include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. The court agreed and added it to the legislation.

Kevin Frayer/The Canadian Press/Kevin Frayer/The Canadian Press

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R v. DONALD MARSHALL, 1999 The Court found that Mr. Marshall, a Mi?kmaq Indian, had a treaty right to catch and sell fish that exempted him from compliance with fishing regulations.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

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MIGLIN v. MIGLIN A wife applied to reopen a separation agreement four years after it was signed. The court rejected her request and said the agreement reached in good faith should stand barring exceptional circumstances that could not have been foreseen. It endorsed the notions of certainty and finality in negotiated settlements.

Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail/Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

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AUTON v. B.C., 2004 A group of parents of autistic children argued that the province had discriminated against them by not providing a form of intensive behavioural therapy for preschool-aged children. The court said that governments are not required to fund all medically required treatments.

Lyle Stafford/The Globe and Mail/Lyle Stafford/The Globe and Mail

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