We live in and by the law. Law affects every aspect of our lives, but have you ever wondered what it is, or reflected on how it influences our relationship with the state? Two legal scholars at The Australian National University (ANU) are seeking to answer these questions and more with their weekly podcast, ‘Secondary Rules’.
Ryan Goss and Joshua Neoh are both associate professors at the ANU College of Law, where they teach Australian Public Law and Legal Theory respectively. Both have long enjoyed debating how their teaching and research interests overlap during conversations normally reserved for the law school’s café or faculty offices.
However, this year they decided to welcome the world into these discussions through their podcast.
“Joshua and I teach a lot of the same students each semester, and the two of us would often have conversations over lunch or coffee about what we'd been doing in class that week,” said Dr Goss.
“Our areas of interest are different, but often collide with one other. So we realised that, maybe, hopefully, our students and the broader law school community might just find some of those chats interesting.”
With new episodes each Saturday, the podcast comprises two segments covering legal theory – and its connection to canonical texts from the Bible to Jane Eyre – and public law – with timely discussions about whether King Charles is fit for office, (secret) ministerial powers and more.
The title of the podcast is a nod to famous Oxford legal philosopher HLA Hart’s seminal work The Concept of Law (1961) – explored in the aptly named episode, ‘My Hart will go on’.
The concept of the podcast is simple, said Dr Neoh: to help listeners – from law students to lay people – better understand the machinery (and chicanery) of the state and the rules that keep it running.
"The state makes law. Legal theory asks what law is. Public law asks what the state is. Together, legal theory and public law helps us to understand how the state makes law,” he said.
Both academics are keen podcast listeners who have enjoyed the experiment of “being on the other side of the earbud”, according to Dr Goss.
And while it might have started as an experiment, the podcast is proving to be a hit with thousands of streams by listeners from Canberra to Copenhagen (and many places in between). The show is proving particularly popular with the University’s global alumni community.
“We're both pretty enthusiastic about our areas of interest, so we hope the listeners enjoy sharing a little of our enthusiasm and excitement about some of the quirky, provocative, vitally-important elements of public law and legal theory,” added Dr Goss.
“Democracy is being tested around the world, and understanding the fundamental elements of our own legal system has never been more important. So we hope the podcast helps our listeners, in some small way, think more about defining questions for our democratic society.”
Subscribe and listen to ‘Secondary Rules’ on your favourite podcast platform.