Dr Kcasey McLoughlin

Dr Kcasey McLoughlin

Senior Lecturer

Newcastle Law School

Balancing the scales

Kcasey McLoughlin is an early career researcher and social commentator who probes the notion of gendered difference in Australian law.

Kcasey McLoughlin


Kcasey McLoughlin crafted her PhD thesis, critically interrogating the impact of gender within the High Court of Australia.

The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy, with seven judges presiding over the court at any one time.

Kcasey's thesis was originally inspired by a period between 2009 and early 2015, when three of the seven judges were women.

This gender proportion was in stark contrast to previous incarnations that were heavily gendered or completely exclusive of women.

Kcasey's thesis examined the influence of gender, and gender politics, on the High Court processes, from appointment through to the retirement of judges.

Additionally, Kcasey's thesis it also asked whether women judges effectuate a gendered perspective informed by life experience, or innate difference in legal reasoning.

By exploring the judgments of this period, Kcasey is also assessing whether the important radical transformations as envisaged by 20th century feminist theorists agitating for gender balance in judiciary bodies has occurred, or is even possible, within the High Court of Australia.


Firstly, the appointment process of high court judges, and the inevitable discourses around those appointments are examined in Kcasey's work.

Conversations regarding the meritorious virtues of newly appointed male judges are rarely undertaken.

In contrast, the appointment of female judges incites much discussion about merit, and assurances that affirmative action has not been invoked. Kcasey recently published an article in the Alternative Law Journal about the politics of merit and diversity in High Court appointments.

Speeches given by newly appointed judges at their swearing in ceremony also reflect a gender disparity.

Kcasey points out that new male judges are more than willing to emphasise aspects of their lives that don't fit within a dominant narrative. One male judge even affirmed the importance of women judges in his speech.

Comparatively, the women judges disregarded the challenges they have faced as being irrelevant and downplayed their difference, choosing to avoid a possible label of advocate.

A study of women judges' maiden or first judgments to be published in the forthcoming issue of the international journal Feminist Legal Studies in 2015, gives insight into prevailing models of collegiality on the court.

"It's quite fascinating. They actually have this wonderful moment of judicial authority when they start out, but subsequently their contributions have very much been based on consensus," Kcasey explains.


The retirement speeches made by retiring female High Court judges are also examined in Kcasey's thesis.

Justice Susan Crennan retired in early 2015. Her final speech celebrated the consensus and collegiality of the bench.

Justice Crennan's subsequent replacement by Justice Geoffrey Nettle sparked discourse around gender equity. Debate around gender quotas, an equity measure Australia seemed unwilling to institute, also followed.

Kcasey concedes that the women appointed to the High Court are delegated power within a masculinist structure and are therefore somewhat limited in their capacity to affect change.

But she does admit to being fascinated by just how much these female judges have participated in forming part of the consensus.


It was Kcasey's dislike of consensus that originally started her on this career path.

"I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was about seven. My parent's told me I was very good at arguing, although it turns out that is not always the most appropriate skill set for this profession," she laughs.

In high school, Kcasey was awarded the Sir Adrian Solomons Memorial Law Bursary, and undertook work experience in a legal firm, confirming her choice of career.

Upon graduating with Honours, Kcasey applied for a PhD scholarship. This allowed her to volunteer at a community legal centre and tutor across many subjects, before gaining a full time teaching position at the UON in 2012.

"I love teaching. There is a lot I like about being an academic. There is autonomy, and space to write about things that you care about," she says.


By extension, Kcasey's work is also concerned with the impact of law on the lives of Australian women. She has already made several thought provoking contributions to national discourse around feminism, law and politics.

Kcasey wrote a pointed piece for The Conversation regarding the framing of the appointment of Justice Michelle Gordon to the High Court in 2015.

In it, she argues that the reinstatement of the almost equal gender balance in the High Court was merely serendipitous for a government looking for an appointee who would maintain the philosophical status quo of the existing bench.

Kcasey has also written about the implications of Zoe's Law on the legal status of abortion in this state.

"The narrative around Zoe's Law has become very problematic," she says.

"The unfortunate side effect of the unimaginable grief of an individual is a debate which has the potential to impact on the autonomy all women have over their own bodies."

She has also authored articles exploring the ethical and legal quandaries that are inherent within the ever-evolving manifestations of the Abbott government's paid-parental leave scheme plans.

Kcasey is aware that her choices around topics may affect her future career prospects, but feels ethically compelled to join in on these debates.

"I had a vision of myself having courtroom dramas and that is still an option. For now, contributing to important conversations that we need to have as a nation, is important to me."

She smiles, "Even if they may not help my employability status.


Investigating instances of inequity and agitating for change is a life's work for Kcasey. The High Court is only her first target, and demanding diversity of representation, only a first step.

"There is all kinds of scope to look at diversity. People say 'So what are you going to do, have a seat for this person and one for that person?'"

"But that's a really simplistic binary. What we should be doing is having conversations about diversity and its benefits. Diversity enhances our public institutions rather than undermines them."

Kcasey notes that even without radical advocates or codified changes in processes, the evolution of society will be slowly but inevitably mirrored in changes to the High Court.

She notes that the male judges appointed in the future will be brought up in a different time to their previous counterparts, and can be feminists.

Despite the idealistic vision of the feminist theorists of the past, even equal representation in power may not create fast or noticeable change, as Kcasey's study of the period of almost equal gender balance in the High Court proves.

"Inherently we have a pretty conservative bench, it's certainly not been a tale of how three women got on the bench and destroyed the joint. That's not been the case at all."

Let's just see what happens once Kcasey gets there.

Kcasey McLoughlin

Balancing the scales

Kcasey McLoughlin is an early career researcher and social commentator who probes the notion of gendered difference in Australian law.

Read more

Career Summary


Kcasey McLoughlin is currently a Lecturer in Law at Newcastle Law School. Kcasey's research explores the interaction between women, gender and difference in the judiciary. Her PhD was awarded in 2016 and this research examined the way in which gender and difference have impacted upon the contributions of women judges to the High Court of Australia. As an interdisciplinary researcher interested in feminist legal theory and feminist political theory she is eager to press the boundaries between the disciplines of law and political science in ways that are meaningful to both disciplines. Kcasey's experience working for a Member of Parliament in a regional electorate provided valuable experience in politics and policy and reinforced the important role lawyers can play in public policy debates.

Kcasey is admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW and has experience in commercial legal settings and in community legal centre work. Her experience as a Solicitor at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre advice sessions further underscored her commitment to clinical legal education. Kcasey is passionate about the educational benefits of mooting and has co-ordinated Newcastle Law School's Mooting Program since 2013. This has involved coaching students in various competitions (the Ashurst Equity Moot, Kirby Contract Moot, the Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot and the Jessup Moot) and forging connections with the legal profession to enhance the opportunities available to our students.

Research Expertise

Kcasey's research about gender, judging and the judiciary has been published in national and international journals. In addition to her research about women and the judiciary, Kcasey's research is more broadly interested in how law affects women's lives. She has written about abortion, sexual violence against women, paid parental leave and gendered constructions of harm in free speech cases. 

Kcasey has supervised four students in the completion of their Honours dissertations in Law and enthusiastic about opportunities for future supervision. 

Teaching Expertise and Experience
Legal System and Method; Family Law; Mooting (Advocacy); Professional Conduct; Constitutional Law

Kcasey also has experience teaching in the Politics Discipline. She has taught into introductory Political Theory and Australian Politics courses and the upper level Feminist Political Theory course, Challenging Political Discourses.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Law/Diploma of Legal Practice(Honours), University of Newcastle


  • Anti-Discrimination
  • Equality and the Law
  • Family Law
  • Feminist jurisprudence
  • Feminist legal and political theory
  • Gender and judging
  • Judicial diversity
  • Legal System and Method
  • Mooting (Advocacy)


  • English (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
160601 Australian Government and Politics 10
180122 Legal Theory, Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation 50
180120 Legal Institutions (incl. Courts and Justice Systems) 40

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
Newcastle Law School



Year Award
2019 Faculty of Business and Law Teaching Excellence Award
Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle
2015 Faculty Student Engagement Award
Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle


Year Award
2017 Australian Political Studies Association Best PhD Prize
Australian Political Studies Association

Research Award

Year Award
2011 Faculty of Business and Law Research Higher Degree Best Publication Award

Teaching Award

Year Award
2016 Faculty of Business and Law Award for Teaching and Learning Excellence
Faculty of Business and Law


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (18 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 McLoughlin K, Stenstrom H, 'Justice Carolyn Simpson and women s changing place in the legal profession: Yes, you can! ', Alternative Law Journal, (2020)
DOI 10.1177/1037969X20938203
2020 Grey R, McLoughlin K, Chappell L, 'Gender & judging at the International Criminal Court: Lessons from feminist judgment projects ', Leiden Journal of International Law, (2020)
2019 McLoughlin K, Williams J, 'An Age of Diversity: Where to Next for the Judicial Diversity Project? Review of Debating Judicial Appointments in an Age of Diversity (Graham Gee and Erika Rackley (eds))', University of New South Wales Law Journal Forum, 1-15 (2019) [C1]
2019 McLoughlin K, O Brien A, 'Feminist Interventions in Law Reform: Criminalising Image-Based Sexual Abuse in New South Wales', Laws, 8 35-53 (2019) [C1]
DOI 10.3390/laws8040035
2018 McLoughlin K, 'NORTHERN/IRISH FEMINIST JUDGMENTS: Judges' Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity', ALTERNATIVE LAW JOURNAL, 43 146-147 (2018)
2018 McLoughlin K, 'FEMINIST JUDGMENTS OF AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND: Te Rino: A Two-Stranded Rope', ALTERNATIVE LAW JOURNAL, 43 146-147 (2018)
2018 McLoughlin KJ, 'Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity AND Feminist Judgments of Aotearoa New Zealand: Te Rino: A Two-Stranded Rope, (Book Reviews)', Alternative Law Journal, 43 146-147 (2018)
2017 McLoughlin KJ, 'Feminism, Women Judges, Judicial Diversity and the High Court of Australia', feminists@law, 7 (2017)
2017 McLoughlin K, Jose J, 'The politics of the public and private spheres: the High Court s decision in Monis and the gendered privileging of free speech', Australian Journal of Political Science, 52 565-579 (2017) [C1]

© 2017 Australian Political Studies Association. The High Court of Australia¿s decision in Monis v The Queen and Droudis v The Queen concerned whether Monis and Droudis¿s use of t... [more]

© 2017 Australian Political Studies Association. The High Court of Australia¿s decision in Monis v The Queen and Droudis v The Queen concerned whether Monis and Droudis¿s use of the postal service to send offensive letters warranted the constitutional protection of the implied freedom of political communication. The outcome was a split decision: the three men judges found for Monis and Droudis, and the three women judges against. We argue that this decision was significant because it draws attention to the law¿s key role in framing political understandings of the nature of and demarcation between public and private spheres. The Court¿s interpretations concerning how we should understand and apply the foundational relationships binding the state, the individual, and the public and private spheres in the twenty-first century highlights the gendered complexities of the politics shaping those relationships. It also highlights the gendered privileging of what sort of speech should be exempted from the law¿s immediate purview, and in so doing, further reveals the masculinism upon which Australia¿s constitutional framework rests.

DOI 10.1080/10361146.2017.1359489
Co-authors Jim Jose
2016 McLoughlin KJ, ' Collegiality Is Not Compromise : Farewell Justice Crennan, The Consensus Woman', The Australian Feminist Law Journal, 42 241-271 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.1080/13200968.2016.1254590
Citations Web of Science - 1
2016 Jose JW, McLoughlin K, 'John Stuart Mill and the Contagious Diseases Acts: Whose Law? Whose Liberty? Whose Greater Good?', Law and History Review, 34 249-279 (2016) [C1]
Co-authors Jim Jose
2016 McLoughlin KJ, 'Judicial fictions and the fictive feminists: Re-imagination as feminist critique in PGA v The Queen', Griffith Law Review, 24 592-615 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.1080/10383441.2015.1126398
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 4
2016 Larkin D, Boehringer G, Arnold BB, McLoughlin K, Roper I, Page S, et al., 'Downunderallover: Developments around the country', Alternative Law Journal, 41 285-290 (2016)
DOI 10.1177/1037969X1604100418
2015 McLoughlin KJ, 'Australian Feminist Judgments: Righting and Rewriting Law (Book Review)', Alternative Law Journal, 40 144-144 (2015) [C3]
2015 McLoughlin KJ, ' A Particular Disappointment? Judging Women and the High Court of Australia', Feminist Legal Studies, 23 273-294 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1007/s10691-015-9301-9
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 6
2015 McLoughlin KJ, 'The Politics of Gender Diversity on the High Court of Australia', Alternative Law Journal, 40 166-170 (2015) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Citations Web of Science - 1
2011 Jose JW, Convery A, McLoughlin K-RJ, Owen SM, 'Reproducing political subjects: Feminist scholarship and the political science curriculum', Australian Journal of Political Science, 46 535-549 (2011) [C1]
DOI 10.1080/10361146.2011.595701
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 5
Co-authors Jim Jose
Show 15 more journal articles

Conference (13 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 McLoughlin K, 'Women Chief Justices in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom', Leeds, United Kingdom (2019)
2018 McLoughlin K, 'No Longer Fringe Dwellers in the Jurisprudential Community ? Women Chief Justices in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom', Melbourne Australia (2018)
2018 McLoughlin K, 'Feminist Interventions in Law Reform: The Criminalisation of "Revenge Porn" in New South Wales', Brisbane, Australia (2018)
2016 McLoughlin KJ, 'Rethinking Women, Equality and Gender: Women Judges, Free Speech and Feminist Values on the Australian High Court', Poznan, Poland (2016)
2015 McLoughlin KJ, 'Still Debating Difference?: Feminist Legal Theory and Judicial Diversity', Australian National University, Canberra, ACT Australia (2015) [O1]
2015 McLoughlin KJ, McDonald B, 'Accepted Wisdom About the Politics of Abortion and Miscalculating the Strength of Civil Rights', The Australian Political Sudies Annual Conference 2015 Refereed Papers, University of Canberra, Canberra (2015) [E1]
2014 McLoughlin KJ, 'What a Difference Difference Makes in Judging the Judges: Gender, Justice and Judicial Power on the Australian High Court ', Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, Public and/or Private Lives, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia (2014) [E3]
2013 McLoughlin KJ, 'Legal fictions and judicial differences: the High Court and judicial approaches to the history of marital rape.', Australian Political Studies Association Conference, Perth (2013)
2012 McLoughlin K-RJ, Lindsay KA, 'What's hate got to do with it?: Legal and political constructions of race, indigeneity and free speech in the light of Eatock v Bolt [2011] FCA 1103', Australian Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Hobart, Tasmania (2012) [E3]
2012 Jose J, Convery A, McLoughlin K, Owen S, ' As You Teach So Shall They Know: Reproducing Political Subjects ', Madrid, Spaim (2012)
Co-authors Jim Jose
2011 McLoughlin KJ, 'Of Merit and (Wom)Men: the Politics of Gender and Judicial Appointments', Australian Political Studies Association Conference, Canberra, ACT (2011)
2010 Jose JW, Convery A, McLoughlin K-RJ, Owen SM, 'Hidden in plain sight: Feminist political theory and political theory', Australian Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2010. Full Papers, Melbourne, Vic (2010) [E1]
Co-authors Jim Jose
2009 Jose JW, McLoughlin K-RJ, 'In harm's way: JS Mill's feminist opposition to the contagious diseases acts', Australian Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2009: Refereed Papers, Sydney, NSW (2009) [E1]
Co-authors Jim Jose
Show 10 more conferences

Other (14 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 McLoughlin K, Bennett J, Johnson M, Betts D, Shaw G, Pepper B, et al., 'Waiting for Equality Research Team Submission in response to Religious Freedom Bills First Exposure Draft', . https://www.ag.gov.au/Consultations/Pages/religious-freedom-bills.aspx#w (2020)
Co-authors David Betts, Marguerite Johnson, J Bennett
2020 McLoughlin K, 'Dyson Heydon finding may spark a #MeToo moment for the legal profession', (2020) [O1]
2020 McLoughlin K, 'No selection criteria, no transparency. Australia must reform the way it appoints judges', (2020) [O1]
2020 McLoughlin K, 'Is sexual harassment preventable?', (2020) [O1]
2019 McLoughlin K, 'Why gender equality remains a balancing act', (2019) [O1]
2019 McLoughlin K, 'Current Issues in Judicial Diversity', (2019) [O1]
2018 Grahame C, Anderson J, McLoughlin K, 'New laws help juries understand why victims of sexual violence struggle to recall their assaults', : The Conversation (2018)
Co-authors John Anderson
2016 McLoughlin KJ, 'Premier Mike Baird wagered moral authority on greyhound ban but wavered under pressure', Down Under Australia Column ( issue.4 pp.286-286): Legal Service Bulletin Co-Operative Ltd., Monash University (2016)
2016 McLoughlin KJ, 'Chief Justice Susan Kiefel and the politics of judicial diversity', AUSPUBLAW (2016)
2015 McLoughlin KJ, 'Mother of all backflips on parental leave', . Newcastle: Herald (2015)
2015 McLoughlin KJ, 'Two-for-one: a good new High Court judge, and a woman to boot', . Australia: The Conversation (2015)
2015 McLoughlin KJ, 'Court appointment of woman judge sound', . Newcastle: Herald (2015)
2014 McLoughlin KJ, 'Sworn To Be: Gender and Difference in Australian High Court Judicial Swearing- in Speeches', ( pp.1). Sydney, Australia: Australian Political Studies Association (2014) [O1]
2014 McLoughlin KJ, McDonald B, 'Women's rights may outweigh Zoe's Law', . Newcastle: Herald (2014)
Show 11 more others

Grants and Funding


Number of grants 6
Total funding $164,995

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20193 grants / $139,995

ECR RhD Scholarship$100,000

Funding body: The University of Newcastle

Funding body The University of Newcastle
Scheme Research Advantage ECR PhD Scholarship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2021
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

2018 Women in Research (WIR) Fellowship$30,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Kcasey McLoughlin
Scheme Women in Research Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo G1801230
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

Waiting for Equality: Telling LGBT+ Stories about Marriage Equality in Newcastle and the Hunter, 2004 - 2019$9,995

Funding body: Janet Copley Bequest

Funding body Janet Copley Bequest
Project Team

Dr James Bennett, Professor Marguerite Johnson, Dr David Betts and Dr Kcasey McLoughlin

Scheme School of Humanities and Social Science - Copley Bequest Pilot Research Fund
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
Type Of Funding External
Category EXTE

20181 grants / $15,000

Surveilling Bodies and Minds: Sexualities, Medicine and the Law in Australasian Contexts$15,000

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme Strategic Network and Pilot Project Grants Scheme
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

20171 grants / $5,000

Dean's Research Award$5,000

Funding body: Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle, Australia

Funding body Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle, Australia
Scheme Dean's Research Award
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

20161 grants / $5,000

New Staff Grant: The personhood is a political: an international analysis of the discourses of motherhood and personhood in the legal regulation of abortion. $5,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Business and Law

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Business and Law
Scheme Faculty Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2017
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

Research Supervision

Number of supervisions


Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2020 PhD The Common Law Civil Action for Breach of Statutory Duty: History, Elements and Prospects PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2020 PhD A Comparative Analysis of Post-Conviction Review Mechanisms in New South Wales, Scotland and North Carolina: Lessons for New South Wales? PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2019 PhD Gender Justice and the International World Order: Why Are International Legal Institutions Impervious to Feminist Interventions? PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2019 PhD New Directions on the Wombat Trail: Katter’s Australian Party, ‘Rural Populism’ and Australian Political Thought PhD (Politics), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2015 PhD A Federal Anti-Corruption Commission: Is There Really A Need? PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor


Copley Bequest funds project that tells marriage equality stories of Newcastle and the Hunter

May 17, 2019

A multi-disciplinary team of University of Newcastle researchers has received $10,000 Copley Bequest grant funding for a project that will capture and share locals’ lived experiences of the marriage equality debate and postal survey.

Female researchers sponsored in academic journey

November 22, 2018

Seven promising University of Newcastle researchers are helping to pave the way for their female peers, as recipients of a Women in Research (WIR) Fellowship designed to support the development of their academic careers.

Dr Kcasey McLoughlin


Senior Lecturer
Newcastle Law School
Faculty of Business and Law

Contact Details

Email kcasey.mcloughlin@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 5510


Room X-530
Building NeW Space
Location City Campus