Dalhousie Law Journal


Supreme Court of Canada, judgments, by the court, justice, judges, courts


For several dozen of its major decisions, the Supreme Court in recent decades has adopted an unusual judgment style-the unanimous and anonymous "By the Court" format. Unlike judgments attributed to specific justices, "By the Court" presents an unusual and impersonal institutionalist face. But what is happening behind the fagade? Are these deeply collegial products with the actual drafting divided between some (or most, or all) of the justices? Is it "business as usual" which for major judgments involves rotation between the senior judges? Or is it simply a pseudonym for the Chief Justice writing alone in an unusually emphatic way? Function word analysis is used to identify most likely authors for each "By the Court" decision; this provides a basis for understanding how Supreme Court practices for these important cases are evolving, and also carries implications for the likelihood of the current practice surviving the current Chief Justiceship.

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