Saturday, January 22, 2005

Book Review - The Most Dangerous Branch

The Most Dangerous Branch – How the Supreme Court of Canada Had Undermined Our Law and Our Democracy by Robert Ivan Martin, 2003, McGill-Queen’s University Press.


With the Prime Minister’s recent appointment of two new activist judges to the Supreme Court of Canada this book is both timely and relevant. In Canada, we have seen considerable criticism of recent court decisions, notably around same-sex marriage, as well as notable right-wing anguish over the recent appointments. This book argues that the Supreme Court is overstepping its bounds, and is, in fact, re-writing the law of the land to suit itself while usurping Parliamentary authority.

What this book aspires to be a meticulous, reasoned critique of the current Supreme Court and the decisions it has made. On this level and so many others this book is a complete and miserable failure.
The author seems incapable of any dispassionate analysis of the court’s decisions. When not indulging in gratuitous and obscure name-dropping he is continually inserting himself into arguments as the unwitting victim of a left-wing conspiracy-like “orthodoxy”. His personal attacks on his tormentors lack credibility or substance and only serve to exacerbate the overall unreadability of a work that resembles a barely cogent draft of a graduate thesis. Whatever its motive this book seems to have been written without any consideration for the reader.

In fact, I do have one good thing to say about this book: For those of you who are not writing books because you do not believe anyone will publish you I encourage you pick up a copy and examine it. If this drivel can get published, especially by a reputable publisher like McGill-Queen’s, certainly your book has a good shot.