French CJ

The Rudd Government yesterday announced its appointment of Federal Court Judge, Justice Robert French as the successor of Justice Murray Gleeson as the High Court’s Chief Justice.

(Chief) Justice French is a native of Western Australia and his appointment has been well-received by many who had become critical of the appointment of a large majority of the bench from New South Wales and Victoria, as well as those who see the appointment as a symbolic statement as to the government’s commitment to federalism.  Nevertheless, members of the South Australian legal profession are disappointed the state has again been overlooked and remains with the dubious honour of never having been represented in Australia’s highest court.

The appointment of a progressive legal traditionalist (i.e. no radical change a la Justice Kirby but also no unflinching conservatism) has also met support from the legal community, as has the fact that while Justice French was a member of the Liberal Party as a student and contested the 1969 federal election (when just 22) against Kim Beazley Sr, he has no significant ties to either side of politics.

Justice French assumes his responsibilities when Chief Justice Gleeson retires on 29 August.

Today’s Australian carries some interesting comment here, here, and here.  Via the Federal Court website, you can also access Justice French’s past papers and speeches, and a brief biography.

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~ by k-rock and l-jive on July 31, 2008.

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