Supreme Court 'Survivor': Eight judges to hear arguments on eligibility of Nadon

  • PR would have suffered serious losses in 2013 polls if hudud was major issue, says DAP
    PR would have suffered serious losses in 2013 polls if hudud was major issue, says DAP

    Pakatan Rakyat would have suffered devastating setbacks in Perak, Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Melacca if it had made hudud a major issue in last year’s general election, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang said. The Gelang Patah MP (pic), who had earlier said hudud was never a vote-winner for PAS in previous elections, gave an illustration of how PR... …

  • Court acquits PKR rep, rules 10-day notice in public assembly act ‘unconstitutional’
    Court acquits PKR rep, rules 10-day notice in public assembly act ‘unconstitutional’

    The Court of Appeal today struck out the charge against Selangor's deputy speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad who was charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act for failing to give police a 10-day notice for a rally last year. A three-man bench led by judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff bin Md Yusof also ruled in a unanimous decision today that Section 9 (1) of... …

  • Assembly law cannot criminalise public gatherings, court rules
    Assembly law cannot criminalise public gatherings, court rules

    PUTRAJAYA, April 25 ― The Court of Appeal today unanimously ruled it unconstitutional to criminalise spontaneous public assemblies in breach of the 10-day notice required under the Peaceful... …

  • Albukhary International University withdraws decision to cease operations – Bernama
    Albukhary International University withdraws decision to cease operations – Bernama

    The Albukhary International University (AiU) in Alor Setar, Kedah has withdrawn its decision to cease operations. Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the ministry was informed of the matter by the management of AiU through a letter Wednesday. "With that decision, the matter is no longer an issue," he told reporters... …

  • Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch remains closed to traffic
    Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch remains closed to traffic

    The 500m stretch of Jalan Bukit Bintang (Jalan Tun Razak-bound) between Chulan Square and Menara Worldwide will remain closed to all traffic, said Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) today. At 10.42pm last night, a sinkhole appeared at the left lane of Jalan Bukit Bintang, said MRT Corp in a statement released this morning. The... …

  • Bible ban in Pahang hotels draws flak
    Bible ban in Pahang hotels draws flak

    Islamic authorities in Pahang have overstepped their jurisdiction by banning non-Muslim religious materials in hotels in the state, say political and religious leaders. The Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council's (Muip) recent prohibition is the first ever such ban to be issued in the country involving hotels, and has drawn strong criticism... …

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada is set to begin grappling with an extraordinary first in its 139-year history: adjudicating the rules for the appointment of one of its own.

The eight sitting justices hear arguments Wednesday morning concerning the eligibility of Justice Marc Nadon, the latest appointment by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the top court.

It marks the next messy step in a rare judicial appointment gone awry — a mess the Conservative government clearly foresaw last summer but went ahead with anyway.

Nadon, a 64-year-old semi-retired Federal Court judge, faces a constitutional challenge because he is one of three Quebec-based judges required on the nine-member bench but he may not meet the criteria for a Quebec appointee.

The government "absolutely knew this was an issue," said Adam Dodek, a constitutional law professor at the University of Ottawa.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay sought a legal opinion from retired Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie to buttress Nadon's appointment even before it was announced, and the government subsequently used a fall omnibus budget bill to redraft the Supreme Court Act rules to "clarify" that Nadon was in fact eligible.

But by then, a constitutional lawyer and the Quebec attorney general had signalled their intention to challenge the appointment's legality.

Nadon, already sworn in as Harper's sixth Supreme Court appointee, was given an unprecedented notice to stay off the court premises until the legal questions are resolved.

Seven interveners will present arguments Wednesday that go to the fundamentals of how much power and latitude the government of the day has to change the court, and whether the Supreme Court's composition is protected by the Constitution.

"It's a puzzle, frankly," said Frederick Vaughan, a professor emeritus at the University of Guelph who has written a highly regarded history of the Supreme Court.

"There are so many things that simply don't make sense in this appointment, when there are so many people there (in Quebec) that are capable."

Nadon's unexceptional judicial resume is not at issue in the legal reference, but does provide an element of political intrigue: Why is the Conservative government wading into a constitutional swamp over this appointee?

The Constitutional Rights Centre and constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati launched the initial challenge, and Quebec has joined the fray.

The Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, concerned that a narrow reading of the Supreme Court Act could hurt diversity on the bench, has waded in to defend Nadon's eligibility.

A reading of the factums filed with the court suggests how incendiary some of the arguments will be.

"The interests of Quebec in representation on the court cannot be subject to eradication at the hands of Parliament," states the Constitutional Rights Centre factum.

"Such a position would be a betrayal of Quebec interests that would justify the succession of Quebec."

The association also raises a politically alarmist scenario in which the government is allowed to rewrite the rules at will.

"Parliament could change the law to allow for non-lawyers to be appointed, only card-carrying Conservative party members or only Federal Court judges," states the factum.

Galati and the association argue the 1982 patriation of the Constitution "constitutionalized" the Supreme Court's appointment rules and only a constitutional amendment can alter them — an argument Vaughan, the court historian, dismissed as "horse feathers!"

The government, for its part, highlights among its arguments the 1949 debate that saw the Supreme Court bench increased to nine justices from seven, and the Quebec contingent to three from two.

It quotes the justice minister of the day, Liberal Stuart Sinclair Garson, telling Parliament that the "real purpose" — underlined in the factum — of having three Quebec judges is to have "three lawyers trained in the civil code rather than in the common law."

"It is that consideration, more than any geographical consideration of appointing a judge to represent this province or that one, that weighed in our deciding upon that particular subsection," Garson is quoted as saying.

The feds also argue that a narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court Act rules could effectively bar any Federal Court judge from being appointed to the top bench — an outcome that would be "entirely at odds with the scheme of the Act, given the court's jurisdiction over appeals from the Federal Courts."

The Supreme Court has a busy winter session planned, including hearing a high-profile and highly political reference on the Senate of Canada. Getting the Nadon appointment resolved one way or another will allow the court to resume sitting with its full bench of nine justices.

"I don't think this is part of any grand strategy of the government," said Dodek, the constitutional expert.

"I think this is a misplayed appointment."

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh The Malaysian Insider
    My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh

    A week after the tragic crash that took the lives of veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Michael Cornelius, his son Ramkarpal recounts the final hours with his father that fateful day. This is his story, as told to V. Anbalagan, assistant news editor. “My parents (Karpal and Gurmit) had gone to Pantai Hospital... …

  • In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle Associated Press
    In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — When they moved from Georgia to the theme park playground of central Florida four years ago, Anthony and Candice Johnson found work at a barbecue restaurant and a 7-Eleven. Their combined salaries nevertheless fell short of what they needed to rent an apartment, so the couple and their two children have instead been hopping among cheap motel rooms along U.S. 192. …