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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Governing from the Bench

The Supreme Court of Canada and the Judicial Role

In Governing from the Bench, Emmett Macfarlane demystifies the inner workings of the Supreme Court of Canada. Drawing on interviews with current and former justices, law clerks, and other staff members of the court, Macfarlane sheds light on the institution’s internal environment and decision-making processes. He explores the complex role of the Supreme Court as an institution; exposes the rules, conventions, and norms that shape and constrain its justices’ behaviour; and situates the court in a broader governmental and societal context. At once enlightening and engaging, Governing from the Bench is a much-needed and comprehensive exploration of an institution that touches the lives of all Canadians.

264 pages

Law and Society

Table of Contents


1 Studying Judicial Behaviour

2 The Evolution of the Court and Its Justices

3 Setting the Stage: Exploring Court Processes Leading to Decisions

4 The Decision: Collegiality, Conflict, and Consensus

5 A Question of Competence: Examining Judicial Policy Making

6 The Court in Government and Society: Dialogue, Public Opinion, and the Media





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