Eighteen per cent of High Court and Supreme Court judges interviewed for a 2004 study believed their political connections had an influence on their appointment. “It would be naive to think politics wouldn’t be a factor, but I think it’s less of a factor nowadays than it was,” says one judge.

It may not be a word that crops up very often when Supreme Court judges convene to decide a case. In some lawyers’ shorthand, it signifies a world (...)