Williams v Commonwealth: School Chaplains and the Religious Tests Clause of the Constitution

Monash University Law Review, Vol 38, No 3, pp. 271-294, 2012

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/64

25 Pages Posted: 1 May 2013 Last revised: 28 Aug 2013

See all articles by Luke Beck

Luke Beck

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 30, 2013

Abstract

This case note examines the High Court’s recent decision in Williams v Commonwealth as it relates to the religious tests clause of s 116 of the Constitution. It was alleged that school chaplains engaged under the National School Chaplaincy Program held offices under the Commonwealth and that the rules governing their appointment constituted a religious test. This case note considers in detail the submissions made by the parties and interveners — something the High Court did not do in its judgment — and critiques the reasoning in the judgments that dealt with the s 116 issues of whether a religious test was involved and whether school chaplains held an office under the Commonwealth. The note also offers a critique of the methodological approach taken to the interpretation of the clause by the Court. It is concluded that the High Court’s decision provides only limited and somewhat confusing guidance on the meaning of this important constitutional provision.

Keywords: religious test, religious tests clause, section 116, article VI clause 3, public trust, office or public trust under the Commonwealth, office or public trust under the United States, school chaplain

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Beck, Luke, Williams v Commonwealth: School Chaplains and the Religious Tests Clause of the Constitution (April 30, 2013). Monash University Law Review, Vol 38, No 3, pp. 271-294, 2012; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/64. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2258394

Luke Beck (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
78
rank
304,425
Abstract Views
388
PlumX Metrics
!

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information