Finally, some good news for women (and boy, do we need it). On Monday, Susan Keifel was sworn in as Australia’s first female Chief Justice of the High Court — the highest judicial office in the country.
Women have sat on the bench since 1987, but Chief Justice Keifel is the first woman to hold the top role.
Keifel was nominated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called her story “an inspiration.” She dropped out of school at age 15 and began working as a legal secretary. When she did return to school and obtain her law degree, she started her career in Queensland, one of Australia’s more conservative states, at a time when few women were practicing law. In 1993, she became the first woman to serve as a justice on Queensland’s highest court.
Unlike the highly partisan nature of U.S. court picks, the opposition Labor Party welcomed her nomination.
The U.S. is yet to see a female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, though there are three women serving as associate justices: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. All three were nominated by Democrats. Trump promised throughout the campaign that he would nominate a pro-life justice to fill the current vacancy— which President Obama was inexcusably prevented from filling by the GOP-majority Senate — leading to the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade. Trump will be announcing his nominee tonight, but unsurprisingly neither of the front-runners are women.
It also seems unlikely, with Trump at the reigns, that any of the current women justices would be promoted to Chief Justice should the role become available.
In 2014, Chief Justice Keifel spoke in a lecture of the importance of seeing women in roles such as this. “In a wider societal sense, these appointments facilitate the acceptance of women as persons having public authority,” she said. “The importance of this acceptance should not be undervalued.”
I’ll just leave this here:
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