Any court watcher knows that the Supreme Court of Canada delivers some of its major constitutional judgments in a “By the Court” format. The abandonment of the common law tradition of attributing decisions to individual judges in favour of an anonymous and unanimous approach is remarkable given that courts are not known for their openness to change.
By the Court is the first major study of these unanimous and anonymous decisions and features a complete inventory, chronology, and typology of these cases. Some significant examples include the Secession of Quebec, Securities Act, and Senate Reform references, as well as the Carter decision on assisted suicide. Peter McCormick and Marc Zanoni also ask where and why the idea emerged and whether it signals a genuinely collegial authorship or simply masks the dominance of the Chief Justice.
Combining institutional, historical, archival, empirical, and comparative work, Peter McCormick and Marc Zanoni examine the origins and purposes of “By the Court.” By the Court also explores its potential future, ultimately framing this practice as the most dramatic form of a modern style that highlights the institution and downplays individual contributions. This book is the first focused study of this transformative and uniquely Canadian development.
This book will find a keen audience among legal historians, law and political science scholars, and lawyers.
This is an appealing book, and I recommend it to members of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries. Anyone with an interest in the history of the Supreme Court of Canada, their judgments, and the judgment writing process will enjoy this book.
In this highly engaging and original book, McCormick and Zanoni trace the origins and use of the Supreme Court of Canada’s unique ‘By the Court’ authoring practice. By the Court offers a new perspective on the historical evolution of the Supreme Court and shows that when it comes to the court, style really does matter.
By the Court was so compelling, I read it in one sitting. This innovative and comprehensive study investigates the Supreme Court of Canada's anonymous decision making. Working from historical, comparative, and statistical perspectives, it explores when, why, in which cases, and with what frequency the court chooses decisional anonymity.
Peter McCormick is a professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Lethbridge. Marc D. Zanoni is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Guelph.
Part 1: Introduction
1 What are By the Court decisions?
2 The Supreme Court of Canada Takes to the Constitutional Stage
3 Why Decision Presentation Formats Matter
Part 2: The Road to By the Court Decisions
4 Originality: Nothing to Copy
5 Uniqueness: A Global Common Law Survey
6 Early History: The “Minor Tradition”
7 Emergence: The Birth of the “Grand Tradition”
Part 3: The Modern By the Court Decisions
8 Inventory and Chronology of Decisions
9 A Typology of Decisions
10 Why These Cases?
Part 4: Conclusion
11 The Meaning and the Future of the By the Court Format
Notes; Bibliography; Index
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