Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Prime Minister Nominates Mr. Justice Marshall E. Rothstein to the Supreme Court of Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has nominated Mr. Justice Marshall Rothstein to the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Justice Rothstein is a judge of the Federal Court of Canada, Appeal Division, and will replace Mr. Justice John Major, who recently retired. Mr. Justice Rothstein practiced law in Winnipeg, Manitoba, before his appointment to the bench. The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs' Web site has Mr. Justice Rothstein's curriculum vitae, and links to some of his decisions and scholarly articles here.

Mr. Justice Rothstein will appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions before his appointment. This is the first time in Canadian history that a nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada will face questions from a parliamentary committee.

I have mixed feelings about this new process. On the one hand, I think it is beneficial if people who are not involved in the legal process have a greater opportunity to learn more about the judiciary. In my experience the overall quality of judges is outstanding, but I doubt most Canadians have an appreciation of that. More exposure is good. On the other hand, I don't want the process to become as politicized as I perceive it to be in the United States. I could care less if a judge is a liberal or a conservative. I want very bright people, who have a good grasp of the practical implications of their decisions, in addition to a theoretical understanding of law--and who simply have good judgment--appointed to the bench. I hope that the members of the parliamentary committee handle this process in a dignified, and thoughtful manner.

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