The High Court has been criticised from time to time for what is termed Judicial Activism. Is this criticism of the court accurate?.
In order to answer this question properly the term judicial activism and the role of the High Court must be defined. Dr Paul Johnson (1994-2000, date accessed 30 May 2001) defines judicial activism as:.
The view that the supreme court justices (and even lower ranking judges as well) can and should (re) interpret the texts of the Constitution and the laws in order to serve judges own considered estimate of the vital needs of contemporary society when the elected "political" branches of the Federal Government and/or the various State Governments seem to them to be failing to met these needs.
The role of the High Court is to interpret and apply the law of Australia; to decide cases of special federal significance including challenges to the constitutional validity of laws and to hear appeals, by Federal, State and Territory courts (High Court, date accessed 25 May 2001). This essay will show that this criticism of the court is accurate. It will also explain that the High Court needs to show some sort of judicial activism in it's decision making because of the changing political and social aspects of society.
The High Court of Australia was established in 1901 by section 71 of the Constitution (High Court, date accessed 25 May 2001). Until the Judiciary Act was passed in 1903 the High Court could not appoint judges or have any sittings (High Court, date accessed 25 May 2001). On October 6th 1903 in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court building in Melbourne, newly appointed Chief Justice Sir Samuel Griffith, Sir Edmund Barton and Richard Edward O"Connor sat for the first time as judges for the High Court of Australia. Over time the workload of the High Court was increased so much that it was necessary to appoint more judges. In 1906 the number of judges was increased to five.