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The Australian National University

Heresy in the High Court? Federalism as a Constraint on Commonwealth Power

David Hume, Andrew Lynch and George Williams (2013) 41 (1)

Williams v Commonwealth of Australia is a landmark decision of the High Court on the scope of federal executive power in s 61 of the Constitution. The decision is also important for the interpretive methodology adopted by the Court. Notably, each judge based their understanding of s 61 upon federal readings of the Constitution. This methodology raises fresh questions about how the Constitution is to be interpreted, and whether Williams marks a break from orthodox understandings of that task. This article assesses the significance of Williams for constitutional interpretation in Australia, and whether it lays the foundation for a more robust protection of state interests by the High Court.

Vol 41, Issue 1, 2013

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