Strategic Behavior and Leadership Patterns of Modern Chief Justices

48 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018

See all articles by Cindy Ostberg

Cindy Ostberg

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Matthew Wetstein

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: March 9, 2018

Abstract

This study uses theories of strategic behaviour, leadership change and feminist theory to examine patterns of judicial activity by the three post-Charter chief justices. Building on prior scholarship, we use various methods to examine patterns of majority voting, dissenting activity, opinion writing, ideological voting, and panel size across the 1973-2014 period. While Chief Justice Lamer and Dickson exhibited clear patterns of task leadership, we find strong evidence of strategic change by Chief Justice McLachlin after her promotion to chief. She moved from a prolific dissenter as an associate justice to a chief that exhibited behaviour of both a task and social leader, which scholars see as highly uncommon. Her efforts to solidify her central role as a collegial leader within her own court are remarkable, and took place during a period of increasing panel sizes and a shrinking court docket.

Keywords: leadership, Supreme Court, judicial behavior

JEL Classification: K00, K100, K330, K400, K410, K490, N400

Suggested Citation

Ostberg, Cindy and Wetstein, Matthew, Strategic Behavior and Leadership Patterns of Modern Chief Justices (March 9, 2018). Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 70, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3137278 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3137278

Cindy Ostberg (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Matthew Wetstein

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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