Courts and Issue Attention in Canada Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Conway, N. D., Jordan, S., & Ura, J. D.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Conway, Nicholas D||Jordan, Soren||Ura, Joseph Daniel

publication date

  • December 2018