Courts and Issue Attention in Canada
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© 2018 by the Southwestern Social Science Association Objective: To inform international discourse about judicial countermajoritarianism, we assess whether decisions enhancing gay rights by Canadian courts increase the media's attention to homosexuality and related topics. Method: We first collect a data set of monthly counts of relevant articles published in two prominent Canadian newspapers and then estimate Markov-switching models to evaluate whether increases in media attention to homosexuality are coincident with judicial decisions enhancing gay rights in Canada. Results: Each of five landmark gay rights decisions is coincident with a period of heightened media attention to homosexuality. The data show that Canadian newspapers publish nearly twice as many relevant stories during these “active” regimes compared to “inactive” periods. Conclusion: Canadian courts can increase attention to issues in the national media. This result supports a dynamic view of the interaction between courts and democratic majorities in place of the static view of democracy endemic to normative discourse about judicial countermajoritarianism.
author list (cited authors)
Conway, N. D., Jordan, S., & Ura, J. D.