Monday, January 28, 2008

On January 28, ...

... 1873 (135 years ago today), Sidonie Gabrielle Claudine Colette was born in the village of Saint-Saveur-en-Puisaye in France's Burgundy province. Her father was a retired Army officer and "frustrated politician," the New York Times wrote, adding that her
mother, Sidonie, had the greater influence on the girl and taught her the importance of being a woman. Sidonie was the type who shocked the neighbors by refusing to wear mourning clothes when her husband died and who read Corneille at mass.

At age 20 the daughter married Henri Gauthier-Villars, a Parisian editor who wrote potboilers under the pseudonym "M. Willy." He encouraged his bride to write, then published her "Claudine" stories of school life under his own name, bringing wealth and fame to himself. "She never liked writing, so M. Willy locked her in a room until she turned out something. After thirteen years of such apprenticeship," the Times wrote, she "became disillusioned and divorced him." The woman eventually known only by the surname she was given at birth, Colette (above left), published one of her best known novels, Cheri, in 1920. Though never admitted to the prestigious Académie française -- because, as the Times matter-of-factly explained at her death in 1954, "it is for men only" -- Colette was admitted to the Belgian Academy of French Language and Literature, was an honorary associate of the American National Institute of Arts and Letters, and became the 2d woman in history to be made a grand officer of France's Légion d'honneur.
... 1988 (20 years ago today), the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of R. v. Morgentaler, ruled by a vote of 5 to 2 that a criminal statute making abortion a crime violated Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

(The 1982 Charter, incidentally, is among the IntLawGrrls' Legal Wonders of the World.) In the majority were Chief Justice Robert George Brian Dickson and Justices Jean-Marie Philémon Joseph Beetz, Willard Zebedee Estey, Antonio Lamer, and Bertha Wilson (As we've posted, Wilson (right) was the 1st woman ever to serve on the Court). Dissenting were Justices William Rogers McIntyre and Gérard La Forest. Employing a methodology I've discussed here and here, the Court looked to numerous foreign decisions as aids to interpretation of its Constitution. Among them: Roe v. Wade (U.S. 1973), which, as posted earlier this month, just marked its 35th anniversary; Paton v. United Kingdom (Eur. Comm'n H. Rts. 1980); and the West German Abortion Decision (Fed. Rep. Ger. 1975).
... 1969, U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Cal.) was born in Orange, California.

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