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Osgoode Hall Law Journal

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This article rests on the distinction between the legal and political meanings of a judicial decision. Cases that are resolved in legal terms may have unpredictable political consequences. Bliss v. Attorney General of Canada (1978) demonstrates this brilliantly: Stella Bliss's argument that Canadian Unemployment Insurance maternity benefits violated the equality provisions of the Bill of Rights was soundly defeated in the court& Ultimately, however, a loose coalition of feminist and civil liberties groups took Bliss into the political process and succeeded in forcing a revision of Unemployment Insurance along with a dramatic expansion of the scope of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The article traces the complex transition from personal case to political cause, demonstrating that Supreme Court decisions have a specious finality: disputes may only be conclusively resolved by a broader political process wherein organizational strength, not legal principle, prevails.

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