Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron

Vetting Supreme Court Judges

White Rock B.C. - Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - by: Brian Marlatt
Neo Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews lacks credibility when he describes as "nonsense" *criticism of proposed hearings before partisan MPs as a threat to judicial independence.  In fact, when his party was called the Reform Party its
"New Canada Act" (published May 1998) explicitly proposed hearings to vet Supreme Court nominees according to their "qualifications and judicial philosophy".*

I submit that the qualifications of Supreme Court nominees is a matter for the concerned legal community to consider in advising the Governor General-in-Council via the Justice Minister and that politicians questioning nominees concerning their "judicial philosophy" smacks of Nuremberg and McCarthyism.


  More recently, spokespersons for Mr. Toews' renamed party have raised both Charter interpretation and questioning Supreme Court nominees regarding their views on the principle of parliamentary supremacy as justifications for such hearings.  A modus vivendi with the Charter is indeed desirable and will likely be a subject of perpetual academic and constitutional reevaluation no less than the principle of parliamentary supremacy itself, however hearings into the "judicial philosophy" of Supreme Court nominees on these matters would be preclusive and therefore, without question, a threat to judicial independence.


  Subversion of the rule of law by threatening judicial independence threatens democracy itself.

Brian Marlatt



Lunman, Kim, MPs working on hearings for top-court nominees, August 23, 2004, Toronto Globe and Mail
  Ibbitson, John, A good day''s work, a valuable lesson in democracy, (pdf) August 26, 2004, Toronto Globe and Mail
  Bailey, Sue, Opposition slams Supreme Court review process, (pdf) August 26, 2004, The London Free Press
  CBC News, Supreme Court nominees, Augsut 24, 2004, CBC News
Photo credits : Images of Abella and Charron from CBC


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