The Charter Revolution and the Court Party

Table of contents

Part I: Introduction

The Charter Revolution

The Role of Judges

The Court Party

Part II: Judges and the Charter

Judicial Discretion

Core Values

Textual Innovations

Original Intent, Traditional Understandings


Part III: The Court Party


Civil Libertarians

Equality Seekers

Social Engineers


The Elitism of the Court Party

Part IV: The State Connection

Secretary of State Funding

Court Challenges Program

Funding for Aboriginal Rights Litigation

Academic Research Funding

Legal Aid

Provincial Law Foundations

Part V: The Jurocracy


Administrative Tribunals

Government Legal Departments

Law Reform Commission of Canada

National Judicial Institute and Western Judicial Education Centre

Part VI: Power Knowledge: The Supreme Court as the Vanguard of the Intelligentsia

Administrative Support

Rights Experts

Advocacy Scholarship

Part VII: What's Wrong with the Charter Revolution and the Court Party


List of Cases Cited

Select Bibliography



The Charter of Rights has transformed Canadian politics. The Supreme Court has used the Charter to change government policy on an ever-expanding list of controversial issues—abortion, aboriginal rights, gay rights, bilingualism, criminal law enforcement, and prisoner-voting. The Court has made itself the second most powerful institution in Canadian politics after the Federal Cabinet. Morton and Knopff demonstrate that the Court is not so much the cause as the means by which the Charter Revolution has been achieved. Behind the judges is a well orchestrated network of state-funded interest groups that use litigation and the media to achieve what they can’t win through democratic elections.