Is hate speech protected by freedom of expression? Do pipeline projects require the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before construction may begin on their traditional lands? Does the Parliament of Canada have the power to impose a price on carbon?
Why are constitutional and public law vital?
Constitutional and public law serve some of the most important functions of law in society. They constitute, restrain, and direct government authority, and also guarantee, secure, and vindicate human rights. Constitutional and public law regulate and mediate the relationship between the citizen and the state and its governing institutions and demarcate the roles and responsibilities of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.
The division of power between the federal Parliament and the provincial legislatures, the scope and limitation of rights and freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the promise of reconciliation in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the judicial review of decisions of administrative tribunals all fall within the broad ambit of constitutional and public law.
Close to one quarter of Queen’s Law faculty research and write in the area of public and constitutional law. Between them, they bring insights from rights theory, political theory, economic analysis, feminist studies, and deep experience in the practice of law within government and private practice.
- Sharry Aiken
- Beverly Baines
- Leslie Green
- Colin Grey
- Cherie Metcalf
- Bruce Pardy
- Jean Thomas
- Ashwini Vasanthakumar
- Mark Walters
- Grégoire Webber (Director)
- Jacob Weinrib
Queen’s Law has long had great depth and breadth in its constitutional and public law research and course offerings. The first Dean of Law, William R. Lederman, was a noted constitutional scholar and served as a constitutional adviser to the Premier of Ontario. The Faculty’s Law Library is named in his honour, as is a named Visitorship. The current Dean of Law, Mark Walters, is an internationally renowned constitutional scholar. Prior to assuming his decanal responsibilities, Dean Walters held the prestigious FR Scott Chair in Public and Constitutional Law at McGill University.
The commitment to public and constitutional law has grown with each successive generation of Queen’s Law faculty. They excel in research and in teaching and maintain an active presence in the practice of public and constitutional law.
What do constitutional and public law experts do?
Constitutional & Public Law is the foundation of any number of legal and related careers. Experts in the area are found in key roles in both public and private law, working on everything from providing government counsel to defending peoples' rights in the private sector.
- Legal counsel for government (federal, provincial/territorial, municipal)
- Policy advisor on legislation, policies, and programs to government (federal, provincial/territorial, municipal)
- Legal counsel with human rights NGOs (e.g. CCLA, BCCLA, LEAF)
- Legal counsel with Indigenous communities and NGOs (e.g. AFN, ITK, MNC)
- Private practice in Aboriginal law
- Private practice in public interest litigation
- Private practice in administrative and regulatory law
- Private practice in immigration law
- Private practice in environmental law
- Administrative tribunals (panel member, legal services)
Queen’s Law divides the first year curriculum between Public Law and Constitutional Law to allow for a deeper understanding of the structure of government and federalism and of Charter and Aboriginal rights. The upper year curriculum offers courses in aboriginal law, administrative law, and advanced and comparative constitutional law, as well as in environmental law and immigration law, among other courses.
- First year: Public Law
- First year: Constitutional Law
- Upper year: Administrative Law
- Upper year: Comparative Constitutional Law
- Upper year: Advanced Constitutional Law
- Upper year: Oppression and the Ethics of Resistance
- Upper year: Advanced Topics in Constitutional Law: Positive Rights
- Upper year: Aboriginal Law
- Upper year: Immigration Law
- Upper year: Environmental Law