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Monash University Law Review. Volume 29, Issue 1 (2003), p. 85-103.


What judges think they are doing has considerable effect on what they actually do. Accordingly, the appointment of Dyson Heydon to the High Court of Australia is a useful occasion on which to examine the connection between one judge's thought and his actions. Heydon's extra-judicial writings call for a nostalgic return to the formalist virtues of an earlier era. However, his early judicial opinions on the High Court not only demonstrate the intellectual shortcomings of such a formalist approach, but also emphasise that adjudication is an inescapably political and contested activity - judicial conservatism is no less ideological than its activist counterpart.

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