Throughout his study, Bushnell investigates the question of the absence of an independent judicial tradition in Canada and the development of distinct legal doctrine by the Supreme Court. He analyses the nature and cause of the lack of independent thought that makes the Court "captive" to inherited traditions and legal doctrines and prevents it from achieving its true potential within the Canadian legal system. Previous studies of the Court have concentrated on the years after 1949; by expanding the coverage to include the first three-quarters of a century of the Court's existence, Bushnell has uncovered a critical aspect of Canadian legal history. Bushnell provides an analysis of more than eighty cases decided by the Court between 1876 and 1989. He examines the backgrounds and views of the sixty-seven judges who served on the Supreme Court during this period, evaluating both the role they felt they played in Canadian society and the role others expected them to play. He studies the question of the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and its effect on the Supreme Court, as well as the movement toward the abolition of appeal. In the concluding part of the study Bushnell considers the controversy over the demand for impartial justice, criticism of the judiciary, and the judges who will take the Court into the twenty-first century.