American exceptionalism, Christian right, Legal mobilization


Political Science


The American exceptionalism thesis holds that American political culture produces an unusually litigious society. The US Christian right has participated in litigation, especially in constitutional rights cases dealing with issues such as religious schools and abortion. However, since 1982 Canada has had a constitutional Charter of Rights and an increasingly active Christian right of its own. We compare data on Christian right involvement in education, abortion, and “right to die” (euthanasia, assisted suicide or mercy killing) cases at the Supreme Court level in both countries. Among North America’s Christian conservatives, exceptionalism has eroded, but not disappeared. We employ interviews and data on religious interest groups to analyze the sources of legal mobilization, and find that it is a matter not just of political culture, but also resource mobilization, political opportunity structures, and religious worldviews.


Original Citation: Hoover, Dennis R., and Kevin R. Den Dulk. "Christian Conservatives Go to Court: Religion and Legal Mobilization in the United States and Canada." International Political Science Review 25, no. 1 (2004): 9-34.