The last year was a high-profile one for the Court in constitutional matters: Two cases, PHS and the Securities Reference, are especially noteworthy, not just for their political significance, but for their likely impact on constitutional jurisprudence in years to come. Several other decisions concerning freedom of association, equality rights and Aboriginal rights also reflected important developments in their respective areas, and in one case underscored deep divisions on the Court. Notably, 2011 was a year of unusual unanimity on the Court in the constitutional area: The justices agreed in all but four constitutional cases. That said, where the justices split, a core group comprising the Chief Justice and Justices Binnie, Charron, Rothstein and Cromwell were most likely to sign on to the majority opinion. Continuing a trend in recent years, the more liberal Justices LeBel, Fish and Abella found the mselves writing separately relatively frequently, as did the especially independent-minded Justice Deschamps. For the second year in a row, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have a chance to change the face of the Court given the retirement of Justice Deschamps. With the appointment of her successor, Justice Wagner, Mr. Harper has appointed five justices, making 2012 the first year of a “Harper Court”. With two approaching mandatory retirements, by the time of the next federal election Mr. Harper will have had an opportunity to appoint a clear majority of justices, who will shape the jurisprudence of the Court for years to come.
Monahan, Patrick J. and Sethi, Chanakya.
"Constitutional Cases 2011: An Overview."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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