Topic: Judicialization of politics in the High Court of Australia: the interplay of institutional structure, legal doctrine and politics on the High Court of Australia

Presenter: Dr. Reggie Sheehan - Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University

The research presented in this seminar examines how institutional change, legal doctrine and politics impacted the success of litigants in the High Court of Australia. It focuses on the influence of party capability theory while controlling for legal structural and doctrinal changes in the High Court. Based on an analysis of cases from 1970-2003, several notable conclusions emerge. The most interesting determinant of litigant success in Australia involves a shift within the High Court from a mechanical form of jurisprudence to a doctrine of implied rights. Once the High Court announced Mabo, 'one-shot' litigants gained a significant advantage and were more likely to win. Additionally, the change to a doctrine of implied rights provided barristers with new opportunities to craft novel legal arguments. Consequently, their influence over decision outcomes increased - as barristers gained more experience and more success the likelihood of their clients' winning increased substantially.

All welcome, please register by emailing Beth Williams.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

About Research Seminar Series

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