Monday, October 15, 2007

Follow-Up on Supreme Court of Canada Judges' Policy Preferences

This is a follow-up to the September 20, 2007 Library Boy post entitled Do Supreme Court of Canada Justices Change their Policy Preferences After Their Appointment?.

That post presented a new paper by University of Toronto law professors Andrew James Green and Benjamin Alarie who attempted to empirically measure how ideologically driven Canada's top judges have acted.

On October 4, 2007, Alarie published a comment in the Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court entitled Policy Preference Change on the SCC: New paper looks at whether we can precict how appointees will rule:
"The net result of the empirical analysis is this: despite some notable exceptions, most particularly Justice L’Heureux-Dubé, the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada do not, by and large, vote in ideologically predictable ways either in the short-term or on a long-term basis. In addition, their policy preferences are in a constant state of change; at any given time, some justices will be changing little, others will be moving in a more 'liberal' direction, and others will be tending towards a more 'conservative' approach. We show that justices who served from 1982-2004 do not appear to have been particularly ideologically driven, especially in comparison with their colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court".
Alarie has also elaborated on the research on the University of Toronto Law School Faculty blog: Supreme Court of Canada Justices are Unpredictable -- Mostly.

The most recent issue of The Lawyers' Weekly also discusses the Green/Alarie paper in the article Supreme Court of Canada judges ‘unpredictable,’ not ideological:

"Alarie’s and Green’s working paper, entitled 'Policy Preference Change and Appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada', also demonstrates that newspapers’ characterization of a new judge’s purported political leanings when he or she was appointed was predictive of little or nothing in a judge’s subsequent voting record (which goes to show, perhaps, that most Supreme Court appointees have been inscrutable to everyone except their families and legal insiders)".

(...)

"The study, which remains a work-in-progress, also undercuts the notion that most of the judges have come to the court with a 'pre-loaded' and unwavering policy orientation. In fact, their decisions show that the views of many of the judges have shifted over time".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:13 pm

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