Academic journal article McGill Law Journal

Legality as Reason: Dicey, Rand, and the Rule of Law

Academic journal article McGill Law Journal

Legality as Reason: Dicey, Rand, and the Rule of Law

Article excerpt

For many law students in Canada, the idea of the rule of law is associated with the names of Professor A.V. Dicey, Justice Iran Rand, and the case of Roncarelli v. Duplessis. It is common for students to read excerpts from Dicey's Law of the Constitution on the rule of law, and then to examine how the rule of law is, as Rand stated in Roncarelli, "a fundamental postulate of our constitutional structure." Indeed, Roncarelli marked a point in time, fifty years ago, at which the academic expression "the rule of law" became a meaningful part of the legal discourse of judges and lawyers in Canada.

In this article, the author considers the relationship between the rule of law as an academic or conceptual idea and the rule of law as a practical or doctrinal idea. A distinction is drawn between two traditions of theorizing about the rule of law, which are labelled "legality as order" and "legality as reason". The author then reconsiders the views of both Dicey and Rand and argues that both advanced the idea of legality as reason. The author concludes that, although Canadian judges now tend to emphasize legality as order, we are better placed to understand the special features of constitutionalism in Canada if we remember that the rule of law has, both conceptually and doctrinally, another dimension--that which is associated with the idea of "legality as reason".

Pour bon nombre d'etudiants en droit au Canada, l'idee d'une primaute du droit est associee au professeur A.V. Dicey et au juge Ivan Rand ainsi qu'a l'affaire Roncarelli c. Duplessis. Il est courant pour les etudiants de lire des extraits traitant de la primaute du droit dans l'oeuvre de Dicey intitulee Law of the Constitution, puis d'examiner comment la primaute du droit est, comme l'a affirme Rand dans Roncarelli, << [l']Jun des postulats fondamentaux de notre structure constitutionnelle >>. En effet, l'arret Roncarelli a ete rendu au moment off, il y a cinquante ans, l'expression academique << la primaute du droit >> s'integrait au sein du discours des juges et des avocats au Canada.

Dans cet article, l'auteur etudie la relation entre la primaute du droit comme idee academique ou conceptuelle et comme idee pratique ou doctrinale. L'auteur fait une distinction entre deux traditions de la theorie de la primaute du droit, soit << la legalite en tant qu'ordre >> et << la legalite en tant que raison >>. L'auteur reprend alors les approches de Dicey et de Rand et soutient que tous deux souscrivaient a l'idee de la legalite en tant que raison. L'auteur conclut que malgre le fait que les juges canadiens aient maintenant tendance a mettre l'accent sur la legalite en tant qu'ordre, nous comprendrons mieux les traits particuliers du constitutionnalisme canadien si nous nous rappelons que la primaute du droit comporte une autre dimension, celle associee a l'idee de << la legalite en tant que raison >>.



I. Legality as Order, Legality as Reason

II. Dicey and Rand

Conclusion: Fulfilling the Aspirations of Legality as Reason


In my memory of law school, the names of Dicey and Rand are knotted together with a bundle of ideas that I learned to call the "rule of law". Indeed, the very first thing I read as a law student on the subject of public law was an excerpt from A.V. Dicey's Law of the Constitution on "The Rule of Law", (1) and the fourth thing I read was an excerpt from the case of Roncarelli v. Duplessis, including, of course, Justice Ivan Rand's famous affirmation of "the rule of law as a fundamental postulate of our constitutional structure." (2)

There is nothing unusual or surprising in the way that I learned to associate Dicey and Rand with the rule of law. Since 1960, the year after the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Roncarelli, student casebooks in Canada have consistently linked Dicey with Roncarelli, and thus with Justice Rand. …

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