Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Miers Withdrawal and Lessons for Irwin Cotler

There must be a lot of people in the Ministry of Justice who are feeling smug today when they think about Harriet Mier's withdrawal as a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's not because they have anything against Miers, or even against George Bush for that matter. It's because the withdrawal allows them to feel superior about the Canadian system for selecting a Supreme Court justice.

I've already elaborated on the Canadian system, along with my feelings on why it's nothing to brag about. So I can point to l'affaire Miers and say that the U.S. system worked exactly the way it's supposed to: the nominee was held up to public scrutiny and found wanting. The fact that she withdrew over concerns about her confidential advice to the President is a nice face-saving tactic.

Did her privacy or personal life suffer? Not at all; all of the public concern was over her qualifications.

So the question I have is, why can't this sort of public scrutiny happen over the Canadian nomination for the Supreme Court? It's not as if nomination isn't already qualified; unlike the American system, a Supreme Court justice has qualifications required by law. And we've already seen, with the Roberts and Miers nominations, that proper scrutiny has avoided the need for confidentiality of the nominee.

Does Irwin Cotler not trust Parliament to qualify or disqualify the government's choice for a justice?