05/18/2012 01:05 EDT | Updated 07/18/2012 05:12 EDT

Supreme Court spot to open up in August

There will be a vacancy at the Supreme Court of Canada in August due to the retirement of Justice Marie Deschamps, it was announced today.

Deschamps will leave Canada's top court on August 7, exactly one decade after she was appointed to it.

"Justice Deschamps has made a very significant contribution to the Supreme Court and, more broadly, to the administration of justice in Canada. We will miss her wisdom, intelligence, keen wit and boundless energy. She has been a wonderful colleague and will always be a good friend," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said in a news release.

Deschamps said in the release that after 37 years of working in courtrooms, including 22 years as a judge, "it is time to explore other ways to be of service to society."

Deschamps, 59, was a judge at the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Quebec Superior Court before she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2002.

"I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to participate in the work of the court. I will leave behind a group of empathetic, respectful and dedicated judges," she said.

McLachlin said she is certain that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government will "give necessary care and consideration to the prompt appointment" of a new justice for the bench.

The Supreme Court is made up of the chief justice and eight justices. At least three members of the court must be from Quebec according to the Supreme Court Act.

One of Harper's last appointments – Justice Michael Moldaver – stirred some controversy because he is not bilingual. Moldaver and Andromache Karakatsanis were appointed in November. Harper's first appointment was Justice Marshall Rothstein in 2006, followed by Justice Thomas Cromwell in late 2008.

The prime minister issued a statement thanking Deschamps for her service.

"Her dedication and contributions to the Supreme Court of Canada over the last decade have made a lasting impression on the justice administration in Canada. Her excellent insight, wisdom, intellect and compassion will be sorely missed," he said. "The departure of Justice Marie Deschamps will leave a significant void in Canada's highest court, and finding her replacement will be a priority for our government in the upcoming months."

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson will lead the initial search for Deschamps's replacement. He will consult with members of the legal community and Quebec's attorney general to identify a pool of candidates. The public can also participate by submitting their views online through Nicholson's department.

A list of candidates will then be reviewed by a panel of five MPs, three from the government and one each from the NDP and Liberals. They will narrow the list down to three candidates and Harper and Nicholson will pick one. The nominated candidate will then appear before a parliamentary committee to be questioned by MPs.