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This consolidated case out of New York considered two independent appeals, both of which concerned testamentary trusts that awarded scholarships exclusively to male students. The first, Matter of Wilson, involved a 1969 testamentary trust (the “Wilson Trust”), which directed that trust income be applied to “[defray] the education and other expenses of the first year at college of five (5) young men who shall have graduated from the Canastota High School … as may be certified by the Superintendent of Schools.
How would judicial opinions change if the judges were to use feminist methods and perspectives when deciding cases? That is the question that various groups of scholars, working around the globe and mostly independently of each other, have taken up in a series of books of “shadow opinions” – literally, rewritten judicial decisions – using precedents, authorities, theories, and approaches that were in existence at the time of the original decision to reach radically different outcomes and often using saliently different reasoning. This global sociolegal movement toward critical opinion writing originated when a group of lawyers and law professors who called themselves the Women’s Court of Canada published a series of six rewritten decisions in 2008 in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law. Inspired by that project, scholars have produced similar projects in the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, Ireland, and New Zealand/Aotearoa. There is an international law feminist judgments project and a Scottish project. Other feminist judgments projects are underway in India, Africa, and Mexico.
For women and other marginalized groups, the reality is that the laws regulating estates and trusts may not be treating them fairly. By using popular feminist legal theories as well as their own definitions of feminism, the authors of this volume present rewritten opinions from well-known estates and trust cases. Covering eleven important cases, this collection reflects the diversity in society and explores the need for greater diversity in the law. By re-examining these cases, the contributors are able to demonstrate how women's property rights, as well as the rights of other marginalized groups, have been limited by the law.