Only The Sangfroid

Mark is of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. He does live in an ivory tower.

These are his draft thoughts…

The Chief Justice Series: Sir Samuel Griffith and his beard

When people talk of the crazy crap exported by Queensland, nobody mentions Samuel Griffith.  Why?  He was totally boss.  And he had a totally boss beard.  Check out this beard:

Not enough beard!

Sir Samuel Walker Griffith PC GCMG KCMG QC


Awesome beard.

He was the first Australian translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Queensland, take a bow.  Actually, stop bowing.  Stop pumping out the people you’ve currently got and get back to manufacturing Sam Griffiths.  Mass produce them.  You know I’m right.  Check out a picture of Campbell Newman if you think I’m wrong:

You don’t see that ‘Can Do’ nonsense behind Sir Sam, do you?  No.  Why?  Because his beard says it all.  ‘I am here to Federate the Colonies by sheer force of beard.’

He was born in Wales and spent a bit of his childhood in NSW, but Queensland should still feel proud for choosing him to represent them in all the important federation debates.  He was known as ‘Oily Sam’ because he could argue on any side of a debate.

He was a lover of Classics.  At the University of Sydney, he was awarded a first-class honours degree in Classics and Mathematics (only took jurisprudence as an elective).

Even with this background (perhaps because of this classical/mathematical mind… cough), he was an amazing legal mind.  In The Australian Constitution, Geoffrey Sawer wrote:

Griffith (1843-1920) was the most gifted jurist and constitutional scholar to engage in the federal movement, and had the greatest individual influence on the shape of the Federal Constitution.

It seems almost a shame that he was so rabidly pro-States.  Despite Isaac Isaacs’ flawless logic about the continued existence of the colonies (we’ll get to that in a later post)

After drafting the Constitution, he flirted with returning to politics (he was Premier of Queensland pre-Federation), but was offered and accepted the role of Chief Justice of the High Court.

Crowning Moment of Awesome:

Kryger v Williams (1912).  Everything you’ve wanted to know about Australia’s intolerance for dopey arguments about religion is summed up by Griffith:

To require a man to do a thing which has nothing at all to do with religion is not prohibiting him from a free exercise of religion.

If Griffith had been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, how far do you think the recent arguments about pro-life, religious employers having to provide health care which includes access to birth control would have got?

Zero.  Zero far.

3 responses to “The Chief Justice Series: Sir Samuel Griffith and his beard”

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