Supreme Court of Canada Decision-Making: The Benchmarks of Rand, Kerwin and Martland


413 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-459-34283-5
DDC 347.71'035





Reviewed by Robert A. Kominar

Robert A. Kominar is a lecturer in the Department of Law and Justice at
Laurentian University.


This book is both unique and troubling. It is unique in its attempt to
provide an intellectual biography of three justices who have served on
the Supreme Court of Canada—an attempt that is in itself worthwhile
and, since the advent of the Charter of Rights, sorely needed. It is
troubling in its failure to live up to the reader’s expectations that
knowing more about the lives and philosophies of particular Canadian
jurists will give insight into the core values of our legal system. This
is not meant to imply that this is not a worthwhile volume. It is the
first Canadian attempt at a genre that Americans have developed quite
extensively. Further studies of this sort need to be encouraged.

This book discusses selected judicial decisions of the three judges
named in its subtitle, who sat on the Court during various intervals
between 1935 and 1982. Its theme is essentially that these three men
represent different judicial philosophies, ranging from natural law to
pragmatism to legal positivism. It succeeds in illustrating that judges
do have judicial philosophies, no matter how vehemently they protest
otherwise. Where the volume is unsatisfactory is in the authors’
uneven attempts to elucidate their subjects’ philosophical natures.
One suspects that this is partly due to the authors’ varying
backgrounds, and partly to the type of individuals who were appointed to
the Supreme Court in the days prior to the Charter.

All in all, this book would be a worthwhile addition to libraries
interested in acquiring a solid but basic work that attempts to put
real-world faces on public figures that for too long have been regarded
by Canadians as interchangeable occupants of nine red robes in Ottawa.


Balcome, Randall P.H., “Supreme Court of Canada Decision-Making: The Benchmarks of Rand, Kerwin and Martland,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024,