Supreme court on social media

Professor Carissima Mathen stands in front of the Supreme Court of Canada

Professor Carissima Mathen was one of the first legal academics to tweet live from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Doing justice to the complexities of Canadian constitutional law in 140-character tweets may sound impossible, but uOttawa law professor Carissima Mathen makes it look easy.

A former constitutional litigator, Mathen has honed a razor-sharp ability to cut through legal jargon and expose the bare bones of an argument. Now, she uses social media to make the law more understandable and accessible to the public.

Mathen was one of the first legal academics to tweet live from the Supreme Court of Canada, known in the twitterverse as #SCC. Last October, she tweeted updates from the SCC’s hearing into assisted suicide, for example, and invited her students to join her in witnessing the court as it considered multi-faceted arguments.

She also brings simplicity to lofty legalese through regular postings on her website. See Exhibit A: “Supreme Court Shocker – Marc Nadon Ineligible,” about the court’s 6-1 opinion that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s appointee, Marc Nadon could not serve on the court. Mathen and University of Saskatchewan College of Law professor Michael Plaxton saw it coming. Their joint article in the October 2013 issue of Constitutional Forum set out an interpretive argument that was mirrored in the Supreme Court’s opinion five months later. “The court basically tracks our argument, citing us in paragraph 58,” writes Mathen in her March 2014 post. More recently, she presented her reflections on the whole matter at the prestigious 2015 Annual Constitutional Cases Conference.

Impress your friends with instant insight into the biggest legal questions of the day — follow @cmathen.


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