The Humility of Administrative Law: Marshall Rothstein’s Prudent Vision

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Publication Date


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Supreme Court Law Review (2d)


Administrative law; Judicial process; Rothstein, Marshall E.; Canada. Supreme Court; Canada


This contribution is intended to review some significant developments in the last decade of Canadian Administrative Law, add to our understanding of Marshall Rothstein’s signature and significant impact on the Supreme Court, and further develop the concept of judicial humility as a framework for understanding the judicial role in a constitutional democracy — a concept that is puzzlingly under-developed in Canada (given our distinct claim to be a global brand leader in humility). The analysis that follows is divided into two sections. In the first section, I explore the concept of judicial humility and three aspects of the concept — fidelity to statutory authority, textual minimalism, and the recognition of institutional limitations. In the second section, I examine judicial humility in Canadian Administrative Law through the lens of the judgments of Justice Marshall Rothstein.

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