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Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions , talks about what "judicial activism" means. For the past 50 years, it has been an accusation slung primarily at liberals.


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Are conservative judges equally "activist" at times? That word that President Obama joked about earlier, it was inescapable after the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor this week. He's a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author, a few years back, of "The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions. Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions": I'm glad to be here.


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  6. Now, we should also point out that you clerked for David Souter. He, of course, is the justice that Sotomayor will replace.

    Courts: Judicial Overreach vs Activism?

    Were you surprised to hear the A-bomb, the activist word, dropped so quickly after her name was announced? You know, Judge Sotomayor was initially put on the bench by a Republican president - by the first President Bush. And so you would think that she's actually pretty moderate. And that, you know, the fact actually that the line of attack that's being used against her is this activist label I think suggests that it's really just sort of an all purpose term of abuse.

    The term itself, I think, comes into use about 60 years ago, but the basic idea has been around for a lot longer.

    See a Problem?

    And the basic idea is a judge who's an activist is making decisions not based on the law but based on what that judge thinks is good policy. So, when the Supreme Court in the early 20th Century was striking down progressive laws, President Theodore Roosevelt criticized judges for legislating from the benches, when the Supreme Court was fighting back against Franklin Roosevelt's new deal in the s, he said the same sort of things. If Roosevelt who wrote the novel In the Shadow of the Law is right that "excessive vilification" of the Supreme Court is dangerous to democracy, then his call for principled analysis rather than partisan name-calling is a timely contribution to our public discourse.

    American judges, the author argues, are not at the front line in a continuing battle for the hearts and minds of the American public.


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    Put simply, the author's message is this: There may be vigorous disagreements in "hard cases," but this does not mean that judges are imposing their own personal preferences willy-nilly. Careful analysis, Roosevelt demonstrates, reveals that even justices who bitterly disagree with each other are still almost always acting in a reasoned, legitimate manner consistent with legal reasoning. It is important to appreciate, he emphasizes, that the law permits reasoned, principled disagreement.

    The myth of judicial activism : making sense of Supreme Court decisions

    The author's wish is that Americans turn down the rhetoric and respond to these differences in a civil, civilized manner, and accept as "legitimate" judicial opinions different from their own. General readers, upper-division undergraduates through practitioners. Feeley University of California, Berkeley. Thank you for using the catalog. The myth of judicial activism: The plain meaning of the constitution: Romer, Lawrence, and Goodridge -- Abortion: Roe and Casey -- Takings: City of New London -- The establishment clause -- The death penalty: Roper and Atkins -- The First Amendment: Despite the United States' ban on slave importation in , profitable interstate slave trading continued.

    The Roots Of Judicial Activism

    The nineteenth century's great cotton boom required vast human labour to bring new lands under cultivation, and many thousands of slaves were torn from their families and sold across state lines in distant markets. Shocked by the cruelty and extent of this practice, abolitionists called upon the federal government to exercise its constitutional authority over interstate commerce and outlaw the interstate selling of slaves.

    This groundbreaking book is the first to tell the complex story of the decades-long debate and legal battle over federal regulation of the slave trade.