Friends of the Court

The Privileging of Interest Group Litigants in Canada

By Ian Brodie

Subjects: Social Movements
Series: SUNY series in American Constitutionalism
Paperback : 9780791453001, 183 pages, May 2002
Hardcover : 9780791452998, 183 pages, March 2002

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Table of contents



1. The Political Disadvantage Theory

2. Interveners at the Supreme Court of Canada

3. Interest Group Litigation and Judicial Supremacy

4. The Market for Section 15 Status

5. Political Disadvantage and State Action





Studies interest group litigation in Canada.


In the first book-length study of interest group litigation in Canada, Friends of the Court traces the Canadian Supreme Court's ever-changing relationship with interest groups since the 1970s. After explaining how the Court was pressured to welcome more interest groups in the late 1980s, Brodie introduces a new theory of political status describing how the Court privileges certain groups over others. By uncovering the role of the state in encouraging and facilitating litigation, this book challenges the idea that interest group litigation in Canada is a grassroots phenomenon.

Ian Brodie is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario.


"Brodie's contribution illustrates the importance of the court as a political player in Canada. He demonstrates that the court systematically serves to privilege certain interests over others, in part through its power to grant leave to interveners. By contributing to the literature on the political nature of the court, this book helps inform the on-going debate in Canada, and other countries experiencing the 'rights revolution,' about the dangers of relying on courts to exercise institutional self-restraint. " — Michael Lusztig, author of Risking Free Trade: The Politics of Free Trade in Britain, Canada, Mexico, and the United States

"This is a well-written, astute analysis of an important development in Canadian politics. The application of the 'political disadvantage theory' represents an effective means of making sense of the recent surge of judicial activism in Canada. The author rightly notes the parallel between the American and Canadian judicial activism, and the common wellspring—the strategy of interest group litigation. " — David G. Adler, coeditor of The Constitution and the Conduct of American Foreign Policy