Author(s): Ron Levy
The Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada held unprecedented public hearings in advance of the appointment of Justice Marshall Rothstein to the Court. The author assesses the work of the Committee using the interdisciplinary literature on assorted institutional design models and their effects on public trust and decision-maker trustworthiness. This literature can inform efforts to ensure that judicial selectors select, or aspire to select, new justices impartially. The Committee adopted a comparatively ineffective and risky model of democratization that relies on accountability tools such as political party dýtente. Past examples suggest that an alternative approach is preferable: Reforms should focus not on increasing accountability for selections but on building trust and trustworthiness in selections. The author offers specific recommendations to enhance trust and trustworthiness in the selection process using a permanent Supreme Court of Canada appointments body. The body proposed can enable robust rather than token levels of public involvement while preserving or broadening judicial independence.