Review of Donald R. Songer, 'The Transformation of the Supreme Court of Canada: An Empirical Examination' (University of Toronto Press, 2008)
University of Toronto Law Journal, 2009
8 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2009 Last revised: 17 Sep 2009
Date Written: June 26, 2009
Donald R. Songer, an American political scientist, highlights in the introduction of his recent book, 'The Transformation of the Supreme Court of Canada: An Empirical Examination,' that he is not Canadian and has no legal training. Readers inclined to be uncharitable might take this admission as evidence that Songer is ill-suited to carry out the task of analyzing the Supreme Court of Canada in a subtle or careful way. The unfairness of such a snap judgment is obvious. Indeed, anticipating this concern, Songer himself claims that his 'outsider' status possibly confers the advantage of 'a perspective that may be somewhat different from those of ‘insiders’ and thus help to cast new light on some recurring themes in discussions of the Supreme Court of Canada' (p. 11). This may well be the case; after all, many Canadian observers and commentators have criticized the legitimacy of the Court’s decision-making in particular cases or its role more generally out of a normative distaste for the results of the Court’s toil. Songer himself claims to be in a position to be able to avoid these normative concerns. This book review assesses the extent of Songer's success in casting new light on the Supreme Court of Canada with the benefit of a more disinterested and external perspective.
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