Telling a History of Australian Women Judges Through Courts' Ceremonial Archives

Australian Feminist Law Journal Volume 40, Issue 1, pages 147-162, 2015

ANU College of Law Research Paper No. 15–12

Posted: 30 Jan 2015

Date Written: January 28, 2015

Abstract

Swearing-in ceremonies are held to mark the investiture of a new judge on the bench. Transcribed and stored within courts’ public records, these proceedings form a rich ‘ceremonial archive’. This paper showcases the value of this archive for the (re)telling of Australian legal history and, particularly, a history of Australian women lawyers. Using a case study drawn from the swearing-in ceremonies of women judges of the High Court, Federal Court, and Family Courts of Australia between 1993 and 2013, the paper explores what this archive reveals about the Australian legal community’s attitudes towards women in the law. It argues that despite the regional and jurisdictional differences between these courts, recurring themes emerge. Notably, while feminising discourse dominates the earlier ceremonies, stories of the judges’ personal and judicial identity come to display a more overt feminist consciousness by the end of the Labor Governments in power in Australia between 2007 and 2013.

Keywords: Women, judges, gender

Suggested Citation

Roberts, Heather, Telling a History of Australian Women Judges Through Courts' Ceremonial Archives (January 28, 2015). Australian Feminist Law Journal Volume 40, Issue 1, pages 147-162, 2015; ANU College of Law Research Paper No. 15–12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2557167

Heather Roberts (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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