Judicial Activism


The proper role of the judiciary has been debated since the founding of the American republic in 1787.  This week, you will learn about and explore “Judicial Activism.”  The term “judicial activism” was coined, and is credited, to the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., in an article published in Fortune magazine in 1947. The term is a specific approach to judicial review or a particular judicial decision where a judge decides constitutional issues or invalidates legislative or executive actions based on their personal beliefs. Often, it is used incorrectly in describing a judicial decision and creates confusion because the term, among certain groups, can have multiple meanings.  

This week’s assignments:

  • Reading:
    • Garraty, Chapters 16, 20
    • Barton, Chapters 1, 4, 8, 9, 10.
    • Herbert and Danoff,  Chapter: 12.
  • Writing:
    • Discussion: Judicial Activism
      • Thread: Describe, discuss, and support your discussion, what does “Judicial Activism” mean to you and provide examples of two instances where policy has been changed as a result of an activist judiciary. 

The proper role of the judiciary has been debated since the founding of the American republic. You will learn that judicial activism is a specific approach to judicial review or a particular judicial decision when a constitutional, legislative, or executive decision is invalidated by judges based on their own philosophy.  

  • Explain The American Judiciary
  • Define “judicial activism”
  • Describe how judicial activism has changed the United States

Textbook Readings

Barton: chs. 1, 4, 8–10 – Barton, David: Original Intent. The Courts, The Constitution, and Religion. Wallbuilders, 1996.

  • Danoff & Hebert: ch. 13- Danoff, Brian and L Hebert Jr.: Alexis de Tocqueville and the Art of Democratic Statesmanship. Lexington Books, 2011

Garraty: chs. 16, 20 – Garraty, John: Quarrels That Have Shaped The Constitution. Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1987.


                                        Judicial Activism

Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. first used the term Judicial activism in the article “Fortune” in 1947 carries various meanings (Kmiec, 2004). Some argue that judicial activism is displayed when judges overturn a  prior ruling. However, others do not view such a case as judicial activism because such actions are expected from the court following its primary function of assessing the constitutionality of laws and re-interpreting elements of the US Constitution.  As a result of the multiple instances, using the term judicial activism depends heavily on one’s interpretation of the Constitution and view of the intended role of the American judiciary.

The courts have an intended role of policing the structural limits on other branches of government and interpreting the Constitution and its provisions with neutrality and not personal bias (Danoff & Hebert, 2011). Therefore, judicial activism is when judges decide to ignore the original intent or fail to apply the Constitution, its provisions, or laws in accordance with their public meaning and rule based on their own personal philosophy or preference .…………for help with this assignment contact us via Email Address: consulttutor10@gmail.com

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