In Judging Democracy, Christopher Manfredi and Mark Rush challenge assertions that the Canadian and American Supreme Courts have taken radically different approaches to constitutional interpretation regarding general and democratic rights. Three case studies compare Canadian and American law concerning prisoners' voting rights, the scope and definition of voting rights, and campaign spending. These examples demonstrate that the two Supreme Courts have engaged in essentially the same debates concerning the franchise, access to the ballot, and the concept of a "meaningful" vote. They reveal that the American Supreme Court has never been entirely individualistic in its interpretation and protection of constitutional rights and that there are important similarities in the two Supreme Courts' approaches to constitutional interpretation. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that an astonishing convergence has occurred in the two courts' thinking concerning the integrity of the democratic process and the need for the judiciary to monitor legislative attempts to regulate the political process in order to promote or ensure political equality. Growing numbers of justices in both courts are now wary of legislative attempts to cloak laws designed to protect incumbents through electoral reform. Judging Democracy thus points to a new direction not only in judicial review and constitutional interpretation but also in democratic theory.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 160 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.4in x 9.0in
This timely and provocative book makes important contributions to a number of fields including Canadian constitutional law and politics, comparative constitutional law, election law, and democratic theory. It is engaging and accessible, and it will be of interest to a wide audience. The book's central convergence thesis is a valuable addition to the ongoing debate over the similarities and differences between American and Canadian constitutional law.
Election Law Journal
Judging Democracy is a very succinct and focused treatment of a well-defined body of cases, and as such it successfully questions many myths about differences between the United States and Canada. The focus of the book also makes it ideal as a starting point for much broader considerations of the relationship between the courts and legislatures, or between the American and Canadian legal system.
Robert G. Boatright, American Review of Canadian Studies
While the power of judicial review is often seen as fundamental to protection of individual liberties, it is less often conceived as a vehicle for the preservation of democracy. There is also a tendency to overplay the distinction between Canadian and American constitutional jurisprudence as it pertains to rights. Manfredi and Rush do a masterful job of articulating and comparing the roles played by courts in Canada and the United States in the name of guarding against threats to democratic rights.
Michael Lusztig, Southern Methodist University
Manfredi and Rush present a compelling argument (and convincingly argue) that convergence and not divergence characterizes the democratic process and jurisprudence of the Canadian and American Supreme Courts. However, they present one important exception to the trend of convergence—the propensity of the Supreme Court of Canada to impose its vision of democracy, demonstrated in Sauve II and the issue of prisoners' voting rights. Arguing that a more respectful dialogue between the branches of government exists in the United States, Manfredi and Rush challenge the notion that Canadian democracy is more advanced because of Charter dialogue between Parliament and the Supreme Court.
James B. Kelly, Concordia University
This is an important, concise, and well-written book that provides readers with bold insights into the converging patterns of jurisprudence in the field of election law in Canada and the United States. This work utilizes three different case studies to challenge the conventional wisdom that the two courts have taken distinctive paths in their understanding of core democratic values and also makes an important contribution to the debate about the ongoing dialogue between courts and legislatures in the Canadian setting. Ultimately, this book makes a significant original contribution to the field of election law, an area of fundamental concern to all scholars studying democratic systems.
Cynthia Ostberg, University of the Pacific
Author InformationChristopher P. Manfredi is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Professor of Political Science at McGill University. Along with numerous journal articles on the US and Canadian Supreme Courts, he is the author of Judicial Power and the Charter: Canada and the Paradox of Liberal Constitutionalism (Oxford, 2001) and Feminist Activism in the Supreme Court: Legal Mobilization and the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (UBC Press, 2004).
Mark Rush is the Robert G. Brown Professor of Politics and Law, Head of the Department of Politics, and Director, Williams School Program in International Commerce at Washington and Lee University. He is the author of Does Redistricting Make a Difference?: Partisan Representation and Electoral Behavior (Lexington, 2000) and co-author, with Richard Engstrom, of Fair and Effective Representation?: Debating Electoral Reform and Minority Rights (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001).
Table of contentsAcknowledgements
1. Differences That Matter? Canadian Misreading of American Constitutionalism
2. Of Real and "Self-Proclaimed" Democracies: Differing Approaches to Criminal Disenfranchisement
3. The Scope and Definition of the Franchise
4. A Tale of Two Campaign Spending Decisions
5. Judicial Struggles with Democracy and the Unbearable Lightness of Process
Subjects and Courses