ANU Student Work Comparing Justice Kagan and Justice Bell

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Professor Heather Roberts (Australian National University) teaches a course called Selected Topics in Australian-United States Comparative Law. Her students produce some engaging work that may be of interest to readers.  Consider this podcast (with video) featuring work by student Jessica Apolinar comparing SCOTUS Justices Elana Kagan and Australia High Court Justice Virginia Bell:

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.

The podcast is available here.

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