Courts today face a range of claims to redress historic injustice, including injustice perpetrated by law. In Canada, descendants of Chinese immigrants recently claimed the return of a head tax levied only on Chinese immigrants. Calling Power to Account uses the litigation around the Chinese Canadian Head Tax Case as a focal point for examining the historical, legal, and philosophical issues raised by such claims.
By placing both the discriminatory law and the judicial decisions in their historical context, some of the essays in this volume illuminate the larger patterns of discrimination and the sometimes surprising capacity of the courts of the day to respond to racism. A number of the contributors explore the implications of reparations claims for relations between the various branches of government while others examine the difficult questions such claims raise in both legal and political theory by placing the claims in a comparative or philosophical perspective.
Calling Power to Account suggests that our legal systems can hope to play a part in responding to their own legacy of past injustice only when they recognize the full array of issues posed by the Head Tax Case.