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Inspiring Thursday: Lady Hale

“Women are equal to everything.”

Lady Hale is one of the very few female Supreme Court judges in the United Kingdom. Last week, she struck the Parliament with her words of wisdom – a drop “like a hammer” for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who saw his decision of “prorogation” (suspension) ruled as unlawful for preventing the Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions. Lady Hale not only excels as justice but is also a fervent advocate for diversity and gender equality.

Brenda Marjorie Hale was born in Yorkshire in January 1945, England, to two teachers. She holds a law degree from Girton College at Cambridge University, where she graduated at the top of her class in 1966, “one of six women in a year of well over a hundred men,” according to British Vogue.

She taught law at Manchester University as a professor before qualifying as a barrister specialised in Family and Social Welfare law. She was also the founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law which served as a pioneering case book on “The Family, Law and Society”. In the 1980s, she was appointed to the Law Commission. She later became the first woman to be appointed Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. 2004, marked her debut as a baroness and Britain´s first female lord and judge.

It is in 2017 that Lady Hale of Richmond rightfully earned the position of first woman to be appointed President of The Supreme Court of England and Wales. Lady Hale took office at 72 after being described as “one of the most forthright and liberalizing influences on the court” (Joseph, Yeginsu). Despite her privileged position, Lady Hale was fully aware of the inbuilt bias of the British judicial system “not only mainly male, overwhelmingly white, but also largely the product of a limited range of educational institutions and social backgrounds”.

Among Lady Hale’s most high-profile cases was her ruling on whether the government had the exclusive power to invoke Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty – the formal start of the Brexit process. She played a key role in the enactment of major pieces of legislation, including the Children Act 1989, the Family Law Act 1996 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

“The most troubling aspect of my perception is that some women are being pursued and oppressed by controlling or vengeful men with the full support of the system,” Lady Hale said.

Fun fact, Lady Hale is known for wearing quirky brooches, especially a spider shaped one. Similar to another important female politician, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who used animal pins and brooches as a diplomatic tool when she was the ambassador at the United Nations. Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq, even referred to her as a serpent. After that, she wore a snake pin every time she had to deal with matters related to Iraq. Another unexpected anecdote, Lady Hale also starred on a special edition of MasterChef in 2018.

At the end of this year, we will have to say goodbye to the woman who has devoted more than a decade of her life combating injustice, due to a mandatory retirement obligation for all judges appointed before 1995.

Written by Claire Davis, WAVE Intern

Sources

Baroness Hale Biography. First 100 Years. 2018. https://first100years.org.uk/baroness-hale-biography/

Biographies of the Justices. The Supreme Court. https://www.supremecourt.uk/about/biographies-of-the-justices.html

Dyer, C. The Guardian Profile: Lady Brenda Hale. The Guardian. 2004. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2004/jan/09/lords.women

Joseph, Y, Yeginsu, C. Lady Hale, UK. Supreme Court Judge, Speaks Calmly and Brings Down the hammer. Hide My Ass. 2019. https://proxy-prg.hidemyass-freeproxy.com/proxy/de-de/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vMjAxOS8wOS8yNC93b3JsZC9ldXJvcGUvbGFkeS1oYWxlLXN1cHJlbWUtY291cnQtdWsuaHRtbD9tb2R1bGU9aW5saW5l

Kelner, S. Baroness Hale represents everything that is good about Britain- she´s my hero. Inews. 2019. https://inews.co.uk/opinion/baroness-hale-represents-everything-that-is-good-about-britain-shes-my-hero-637159

King, K. Lady Hale was on MasterChef last night. Legal Cheek. 2018. https://www.legalcheek.com/2018/04/lady-hale-was-on-masterchef-last-night/