Episode 65

Following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Coney Barrett has been appointed to the US Supreme Court.  The high-octane confirmation process for the new judge illustrates a basic truth – interpretation matters!  In a country with no working consensus on how the Constitution or statutes are to be read, the stance of any candidate is of great importance to the warring tribes of the republic.  Where RBG was ‘sensibly pragmatic’ with the text as an ‘imperfect guide’1, ACB favours a strict originalism where legal meaning is all but frozen-in-time2.  The influence of ACB far into the future may indeed be profound given US judges are appointed for life – here they retire at 70.  Appointment of judges to our apex court is also contested, but without the intense public scrutiny we see in America3.  In both systems, however, the way judges interpret statutes really matters!

Claudia Hodge – Tax Counsel Network

See here for the official PDF of Episode 65 of interpretation NOW!

In this episode:

Credits – Claudia Hodge, Gordon Brysland & Oliver Hood.


1 Wolff Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sensible Pragmatism (2010) 70(4) OSLJ 839.

2 Bernick Amy Coney Barrett on Interpretation (2018) YaleJReg blog.

3 Appointment of Steward & Gleeson JJ to our High Court illustrates this.