Today’s news, as welcome as it is unsurprising, officially confirms that the next High Court will be the Kiefel Court. Here are some features of the new Court that will commence on 30th January 2017:
- Susan Kiefel, age 63, appointed by Howard government until 17th January 2024
- Virginia Bell, age 65, appointed by Rudd government until 7th March 2021
- Stephen Gageler, age 58, appointed by Gillard government until 5th July 2028
- Patrick Keane, age 64, appointed by Gillard government until 26th October 2022
- Geoffrey Nettle, age 66, appointed by Abbott government until 2nd December 2020
- Michelle Gordon age 52, appointed by Abbott government until 19th November 2034
- James Edelman, age 43, appointed by Turnbull government until 9th January 2044
With Edelman J ( a Supreme Court judge later Federal Court judge, from WA) replacing French CJ (previously a Federal Court judge from WA, appointed by the Howard government), the Court’s diversity in appointing party, gender, geography (alas for South Australia) and prior positions remains unchanged. However, Edelman J is the Court’s first appointee born in the 1970s, just as Gordon J before him was the Court’s first appointee born in the 1960s.
Assuming no early resignations, these are the last new appointments to the High Court for four years. The next (or so) Prime Minister will then have the opportunity to replace Nettle J and Bell J in quick succession in 2020/1, followed by Keane J in 2022. If Kiefel CJ stays for her full term, then the next most senior judges will be Gageler J, Gordon J and Edelman J. As Gageler J will have only four years remaining on the Court (although Brennan CJ was appointed in similar circumstances), a Gordon Court from 2024-2034 and an Edelman Court from 2034-2044 would be a solid bet.