JUDICIAL ACTIVISM

judicial activism, n. A philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions, usu. with the suggestion that adherents of this philosophy tend to find constitutional violations and are willing to ignore precedent. Cf. JUDICIAL RESTRAINT(3). — judicial activist, n.

“[I]f to resolve the dispute the court must create a new rule or modify an old one, that is law creation. Judges defending themselves from accusations of judicial activism sometimes say they do not make law, they only apply it. It is true that in our system judges are not supposed to and generally do not make new law with the same freedom that legislatures can and do; they are, in Oliver Wendell Holmes’s phrase, ‘confined from molar to molecular motions.’ The qualification is important, but the fact remains that judges make, and do not just find and apply, law.” Richard A. Posner, The Federal Courts: Crisis and Reform 3 (1985).