Judicial Activism

Definition - What does Judicial Activism mean?

Judicial activism is the idea that Supreme Court justices and lower court judges have the legal authority and right to go beyond strict interpretation of constitutional, state or other federal laws in their rulings.

Holders of this view believe that judges can and should reinterpret the law to reflect their own views on how to best meet societal needs at a given time.

Justipedia explains Judicial Activism

Judicial activism is a controversial principle because it often changes the status quo:

  • For example, the application of judicial activism in some cases can cause an existing law to be rescinded on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
  • Another example is a situation in which a legal principle or rule that was previously accepted by a higher court is overturned.
  • A third and final example of judicial activism is one in which the resulting decision is inconsistent with a prior interpretation of the constitution.
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