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.
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.
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