Dr Heather Roberts

Senior Lecturer
Phd (ANU); BA(Asian Studies)(Hons)/LLB(Hons) ANU
+61 2 6125 0624
Room 229

home icon ANU College of Law, Bld 7, Fellows Rd, Acton ACT 2601

mail icon ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Rd, Acton ACT 2601

 

Biography

Dr Heather Roberts is the leading and pioneer scholar on judicial swearing- in ceremonies. In 2015 this research was showcased in her interview with Anita Barraud on ABC Radio National’s Law Report. This interview drew on her extensive and ground-breaking archival research into the origins and contemporary practice of these ceremonies in Australian Federal Courts.

Her swearing-in research is part of a larger research agenda exploring the question: how does who a judge is make a difference to how the law develops? This question originally prompted her return to academia to pursue doctoral research examining the constitutional philosophy of Sir William Deane. She has continued this interest through studies of the jurisprudence of Justices Michael Kirby and Dyson Heydon, and presented and published her research nationally and internationally.

Appointments

Heather has served as the Secretary of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law, and ACT Chapter chair. 

Awards

Year Title
2014 ANU College of Law Education Awards: Award for Teaching Excellence 2014

read more »

Significant research publications

  • Roberts, H 2014 Telling a History of Australian Women Judges Through Courts' Ceremonial Archives' Australian Feminist Law Journal, 40:1, 147-162.
  • '"Swearing Mary": The Significance of the Speeches Made at Mary Gaudron's Swearing-in as a Justice of the High Court of Australia' Sydney Law Review, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 493-510. 
  • Roberts, H 2012 'Women Judges, "Maiden Speeches" and the High Court of Australia', in Beverley Baines, Daphne Barak-Erez, Tsvi Kahana (ed.), Feminist Constitutionalism: Global Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, New York, USA, pp. 113-131.
  • Roberts, H 2011, 'A Mirror to the Man Reflecting on Justice William Deane: A Private Man in Public Office', Adelaide Law Review, vol. 32, pp. 17-46.
  • Roberts, H & Williams, J 2009, 'Constitutional Law', in Ian Freckelton and Hugh Selby (ed.), Appealing to the Future: Michael Kirby and His Legacy, Thomson Reuters, Pyrmont, Australia, pp. 179-216

Recent news

09
Feb
2017
The High Court of Australia

“How does the personal identity of a judge make a difference to law and legal systems?” That was the lingering question that sparked Dr Heather Roberts’ return to academia and one she seeks to answer in an upcoming research project.

27
Jan
2017
High Court of Australia

The Honourable Justice Susan Kiefel will become the first woman to be Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia on Monday when she is sworn in during a ceremony dating back more than 100 years.

30
Nov
2016
Professor Michael Coper

On Friday 2 December a conference celebrating the achievements of Michael Coper will be held in the Common Room, University House. Michael is a “big picture” person whose vision has always focused on the future. The conference’s title, “New Ways Forward”, with its tone of energy and optimism, could not be more fitting for an event celebrating the career of Michael Coper and reinforcing the continuing beneficial effects of his achievements.

27
Aug
2015

ANU constitutional law expert Heather Roberts with Gabrielle Appleby (UNSW) asks how a former judge with an avowed commitment to judicial independence and probity found himself at the centre of a very public controversy over his own impartiality?

In the Media

1
Feb
2017
Heather Roberts speaks to ABC Radio National Law Report
30
Jan
2017
Heather Roberts quoted in Nine News website; AAP
30
Nov
2016
Heather Roberts comments on The Sydney Morning Herald

Past events

02
Dec
2016
Professor Michael Coper
12.00AM Conference

A conference in honour of Professor Michael Coper.

Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.

Research biography

Dr Heather Roberts is the leading and pioneer scholar on judicial swearing-in ceremonies. In 2015 this research was showcased in her interview with Anita Barraud on ABC Radio National’s Law Report. This interview drew on her extensive and ground-breaking archival research into the origins and contemporary practice of these ceremonies in Australian Federal Courts. In particular, the interview focused on how her research uses swearing-in ceremonies to tell a rich narrative history and biography of the Australian legal profession and the judiciary, including the changing attitudes towards women in the law in Australia.

Her swearing-in research is part of a larger research agenda exploring the question: how does who a judge is make a difference to how the law develops? This question originally prompted her return to academia to pursue doctoral research examining the constitutional philosophy of Sir William Deane. She has continued this interest through studies of the jurisprudence of Justices Michael Kirby and Dyson Heydon, and presented and published her research nationally and internationally.

Dr Roberts was elected as Council Member and Secretary of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law and has served as Treasurer of the ACT Tenant’s Union.

Research projects & collaborations

  •  

Grants

  •  

Consultancies

  •  

Books & edited collections

  •  

Book chapters

  • ‘“He who would not be muzzled” Justice Heydon’s Last Dissent’ for Andrew Lynch (ed) Great Australian Dissents (forthcoming) (with Associate Professor Gabrielle Appleby)
  • ‘Women Judges, “Maiden Speeches,” and the High Court of Australia’, in Beverley Baines, Daphne Barak-Erez, Tsvi Kahana (eds), Feminist Constitutionalism: Global Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, New York, USA) 113
  • ‘Constitutional Law’, in Ian Freckelton and Hugh Selby (ed.), Appealing to the Future: Michael Kirby and His Legacy (Thomson Reuters, Pyrmont, Australia) 179 (with Professor John Williams)

Refereed journal articles

  • Review Essay (with Laura Sweeney) 'Why (re)write Judgments: Righting and Rewriting Law' (2015) 37 Sydney Law Review 457  
  • Telling a History of Australian Women Judges Through Courts’ Ceremonial Archives’ (2014) 40 Australian Feminist Law Journal 147
  • ‘“Swearing Mary”: The Significance of the Speeches Made at Mary Gaudron’s Swearing-in as a Justice of the High Court of Australia’ (2013) 34 Sydney Law Review 493
  • ‘“A Mirror to the Man”, Reflecting on Justice William Deane: A Private Man in Public Office’ (2011) 32 Adelaide Law Review 17

Conference papers & presentations

 

  •  ‘Women Judges ‘Maiden Speeches’: Telling a history of women judges through judicial swearing-in ceremonies’, Society of Legal Scholars Conference, September 2014, Nottingham
  • ‘What makes a Good Judge?', Australian Network for Japanese Law Workshop, May 2014, Cairns
  • ‘Why we should use swearing-in our teaching’, Australian Law Teachers Association Conference, September 2013, Canberra, Australia
  • Telling Tales’”: How Judges’ Lives are told at High Court Swearing-in Ceremonies’, The 8th Biennial Conference of the International Auto/Biography Association, 17-20 July 2012, Canberra, Australia
  •  ‘Women Judges, “Maiden Speeches”, and the High Court of Australia’, International Conference on Feminist Constitutionalism, Queens University, 28 February–1 March 2009

 

Commissioned reports

  •  

Government submissions

  •  

Committees

 

Internal ANU Committees

  • ANU College of Law Visitors Committee (2015- ongoing)
  • ANU College of Law Research Committee (2013- ongoing)
  • ANU College of Law CHAT student mentoring program, Director (2009-2010)
  • ANU College of Law Pastoral Care Committee, Chair (2009-2010)
  • ANU Legal History Network, Chair (2009-2010)
  • Federal Law Review Staff Editor (2009)
  • ANU College of Law Admissions Committee (2008-2009)
  • ANU College of Law Honours Thesis Review Committee (2008-2009)
  • Phillipa Weeks Scholarship Committee (2006-2009, 2015)

Case notes & book reviews

  

  • Book Review ‘Australian Feminist Judgments Project’ (2015)  35 Legal Studies 558.

Other

  •  

PhD supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Constitutional law
  • Judicial biography
  • Australian legal history
  • Torrens title
  • Law and gender in relation to any of the above topics

 

SJD supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Constitutional law
  • Judicial biography
  • Australian legal history
  • Torrens title
  • Law and gender in relation to any of the above topics

 

 

MPhil supervision

 

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Constitutional law
  • Judicial biography
  • Australian legal history
  • Torrens title
  • Law and gender in relation to any of the above topics

LLM Masters thesis supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Constitutional law
  • Judicial biography
  • Australian legal history
  • Torrens title
  • Law and gender in relation to any of the above topics

 

Honours thesis supervision

I am willing to supervise, and have previously supervised in the areas:

  • Constitutional law
  • Judicial biography
  • Australian legal history
  • Property Law
  • Women and the Law

 

 

Internship supervision

I am willing to supervise in the areas:

  • Constitutional law
  • Judicial biography
  • Australian legal history
  • Property
  • Women and the Law

I have previously supervised:

  • 'the Tasmanian Dam Case: a 30 year retrospective'

 

Philosophy & approach

Heather’s teaching is informed by her experiences in compulsory courses: courses with deserved reputations for being demanding and complex, and undeserved reputations for being dull and irrelevant to students’ lives post-university. Heather’s inspiring teaching is challenging these assumptions. Blending a carefully constructed skills-based approach to course content, a rigorous but encouraging learning environment, and a genuine and infectious enthusiasm for her research and her teaching, students leave Heather’s classes with renewed confidence in their abilities and new perspectives on law and judicial reasoning.

Teaching awards

Year Title
2014 ANU College of Law Education Awards: Award for Teaching Excellence 2014

read more »

Past courses

  •  

How my works connects with public policy

My current research connects with public policy by interrogating the question: how does the personal identity of a judge make a difference to law and legal systems?

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team