Jessica Apolinar

Behind the Bench – Judge First, Woman Second

This podcast explores what it means to be a woman judge on the High Court of Australia and the United States Supreme Court, and the woman judge’s decision to separate her professional identity as a judge from her personal identity and experiences as a woman.

The podcast adopts a ‘kaleidoscope’ approach to examine and compare two case studies of women judges on the High Court of Australia and the US Supreme Court: Justices Virginia Bell and Elena Kagan. It compares the backgrounds, education, experience and judicial philosophies of each judge and the context in which she was appointed. Swearing-in speeches and comments made during Senate committee hearings help to illustrate each judge’s initial representation of her professional identity as distinct from her personal one.

Conceptualising their experiences like a ‘kaleidoscope’ – observing different aspects of their experiences, which are composed of the same elements but in a different configuration – accounts for the complex interrelationships between different historical, social and political contexts and these women’s responses to their different circumstances.

Thank you for visiting this display of student work from Selected Topics in Australian-United States Comparative Law. The course convenor, Dr Heather Roberts from the ANU College of Law, would like to ask you a few questions about your impressions of the work and the display through an online survey.

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