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Governmental Interventions and Judicial Decision Making: The Supreme Court of Canada in the Age of the Charter

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2013

Vuk Radmilovic*
Affiliation:
York University
*
Vuk Radmilovic, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Ignat Kaneff Building, Room 4042, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON, M3J 1P3. Email: vukrad@yorku.ca

Abstract

Abstract. While comparative public law scholars report that we are witnessing a “global expansion of judicial power” (Tate and Vallinder, 1995), much of the comparative research also suggests that judicial power is subject to significant external constraints, including those associated with interests of governmental actors (such as Helmke, 2005; Vanberg, 2005). In Canada, however, the question of the extent to which governmental actors affect the Supreme Court of Canada's decision making in the wake of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has not received systematic attention (but see Hennigar, 2010; Kelly, 2005). The paper analyzes the extent to which governmental mobilization through third-party intervention affects the Supreme Court's decision making. It relies on a dataset of all constitutional rights cases involving review of written laws decided by the Court in the post-charter period (1982–2007). It shows that third-party intervention is a powerful institutional mechanism providing governmental actors with an opportunity to systematically affect the exercise of judicial review.

Résumé. Alors que les chercheurs en droit public comparé affirment que nous assistons à une «expansion globale du pouvoir judiciaire» (Tate et Vallinder, 1995), la recherché comparative suggère également que le pouvoir judiciaire est soumis à de fortes contraintes extérieures, y compris celles associées aux intérêts des acteurs gouvernementaux (Helmke, 2005; Vanberg, 2005). Au Canada, cependant, la question de l'impact des acteurs gouvernementaux sur le processus de décision de la Cour Suprême, dans la foulée de l'adoption de la Charte, a reçu peu d'attention (à l'exception des travaux d'Hennigar 2010; Kelly, 2005). Cet article explore dans quelle mesure la mobilisation gouvernementale par l'entremise de l'intervention des tiers influence le processus de décision de la Cour Suprême. Il s'appuie sur une base de données des décisions liées aux droits constitutionnels dans la période de l'après-Charte (1982–1997) qui ont nécessité un examen de législations gouvernementales. Il démontre que l'intervention de tiers est un puissant mécanisme institutionnel permettant aux acteurs gouvernementaux de systématiquement influencer l'exercice du contrôle judiciaire.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association 2013 

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