Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
18 January 2018

On Catharine MacKinnon

More troubling to my mind, but broached far less often, is the question of whether it makes sense for feminists to attempt to change the world by changing the law. The worry isn’t so much that strengthening the hand of a patriarchal state can only be bad for women; MacKinnon doesn’t want to strengthen the state exactly, but to adjust the law so that state power is exercised in a way that promotes sex equality instead of maintaining and entrenching male dominance. Rather, the concern is that it’s possible that no amount of adjustment could convert the law – or at least, the law in a liberal capitalist state – into a vehicle of genuine emancipation for women.

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