Seduced by the example of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the editorialists of the Toronto Globe and Mail are calling on Canada's justices to renounce their self-imposed silence. Several reasons are advanced for why Canadian justices don't write books during or after service on the court -- a rule against accepting outside remuneration while serving, a desire to avoid hurt feelings, and deep-seated Canadian reticence. In contrast, the editorial notes, U.S. justices are prolific:
Justice Sotomayor’s inspirational memoir, My Beloved World, about growing up poor, diabetic and the daughter of an alcoholic, is hardly the only book from the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia has a book out. Justice Clarence Thomas, who went seven years without asking a question during a hearing, wrote a bestselling autobiography in 2007. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a political-science book. Former justice Sandra Day O’Connor was on the Charlie Rose show last week talking about her latest book.
A tally of books by U.S. Supreme Court justices, present and past, comes to 353 (mostly not textbooks).
The editorial concludes:
The late Supreme Court judge John Sopinka said judges don’t need to be monks. Heck, even monks write books. So do former prime ministers. So do former governors-general. Even a former king has. As public officials, they have a great deal to contribute to demystifying the court and the law. Whatever the reasons for reticence on the Supreme Court, the silence comes at an enormous cost. There will never be an embrace like the one between Sonia Sotomayor and a seven-year-old girl who asked her what books she loved.