The Gibbs Court
The High Court under the chief justiceship of Sir Harry Gibbs was distinctive for three important reasons. The first was the consolidation and defence of the integrity of the Court in the context of major challenges to its public reputation. The second concerns the jutisprudential legacy of the Court. The Gibbs Court was Important for the way it shaped Australian federalism, with new themes in taxation, environmental, and Indigenous politics providing the context for a reassessment of the powers of the Commonwealth and the states and the constitutional relationship between them. Third, the Court was notable for the emerging variety of judicial techniques and legal philosophies adhered to by its Justices. At the risk of over-simplification, these ranged from the conservative legalism of Gibbs CJ, Sir Keith Aickin, Sir Ronald Wilson, and Sir Daryl Dawson; to the democratic-human rights radicalism of Lionel Murphy J; with the measured and often mediating stances taken by Sir Ninian Stephen and Sir Gerard Brennan; as well as the not yet fully apparent legal realism of Sir Anthony Mason and Sir William Deane, usually lying· somewhere in-between. Chief Justice Gibbs played a crucial role in the defence of the Court's integrity, whereas his views on· federalism proved to be less influential. His stance on the constitutionalisation of human rights carried the Court during his leadership, but was eclipsed by the Court under the succeeding Chief Justice, Mason.
The High Court, the Constitution and Australian Politics
Courts and Sentencing