This article uses the Supreme Court of Canada’s Reference re Senate Reform as a basis for arguing that metaphors are not always appropriate in constitutional adjudication. In that decision, the Court relies on the metaphor of “constitutional architecture” ten times (11 if a subheading is counted). Despite the multiple references, the Court leaves unanswered questions about what the architecture metaphor is doing. Does it help to clarify? Is it the same or different from the text itself? Is it the same or different from “structure”? Is not the metaphor itself capable of multiple meanings? Relying too heavily on metaphors allows figurative usage to do the heavy lifting of rigour and persuasion and may cause more problems than it seeks to resolve. The Senate Reference’s extensive use of the architecture metaphor also allows the author a chance to examine some ideas related to architecture itself, and how its inherent indeterminacy and illusory nature represent a peculiar choice for the Supreme Court to rely on in coming to terms with Canada’s institutions.
"You Don’t Need a Metaphor to Know Which Way the Case Goes: The Senate Reference and Constitutional Metaphors."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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