In Judging Democracy, Christopher Manfredi and Mark Rush challenge assertions that the Canadian and American Supreme Courts have taken radically different approaches to constitutional interpretation regarding general and democratic rights. Three case studies compare Canadian and American law concerning prisoners' voting rights, the scope and definition of voting rights, and campaign spending. These examples demonstrate that the two Supreme Courts have engaged in essentially the same debates concerning the franchise, access to the ballot, and the concept of a "meaningful" vote. They reveal that the American Supreme Court has never been entirely individualistic in its interpretation and protection of constitutional rights and that there are important similarities in the two Supreme Courts' approaches to constitutional interpretation. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that an astonishing convergence has occurred in the two courts' thinking concerning the integrity of the democratic process and the need for the judiciary to monitor legislative attempts to regulate the political process in order to promote or ensure political equality.
Growing numbers of justices in both courts are now wary of legislative attempts to cloak laws designed to protect incumbents through electoral reform. Judging Democracy thus points to a new direction not only in judicial review and constitutional interpretation but also in democratic theory.
Christopher P. Manfredi is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Professor of Political Science at McGill University. Along with numerous journal articles on the US and Canadian Supreme Courts, he is the author of Judicial Power and the Charter: Canada and the Paradox of Liberal Constitutionalism (Oxford, 2001) and Feminist Activism in the Supreme Court: Legal Mobilization and the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (UBC Press, 2004). Mark Rush is the Robert G. Brown Professor of Politics and Law, Head of the Department of Politics, and Director, Williams School Program in International Commerce at Washington and Lee University. He is the author of Does Redistricting Make a Difference?: Partisan Representation and Electoral Behavior (Lexington, 2000) and co-author, with Richard Engstrom, of Fair and Effective Representation?: Debating Electoral Reform and Minority Rights (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001).