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Judicial activism

From lawbrain.com

When a judicial officer incorporates their individual political views in their decision-making process. Traditionally, judges are supposed to apply the law to the facts and disregard any personal bias.



The view that Supreme Court justices can and should interpret the U.S. Constitution and its subsequent laws within the context of the needs of contemporary society when the federal government fails to meet the electorate's needs. Judges should not hesitate to exceed the bounds of their traditional roles and become independent policy makers for the betterment of the people. [1]

Judicial Activism v. Judicial Restraint

Judges who adhere strictly to the text of the U.S. Constitution when issuing a ruling exercise judicial restraint. The intent of judicial restraint is to limit judicial abuse of power and to demonstrate deference to the U.S. Constitution.[2]

Plessy v. Ferguson

An 1896 decision by the Supreme Court, Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 S. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256, upheld the constitutionality of an 1890 Louisiana statute requiring white and "colored" persons to be furnished "separate but equal" accommodations on railway passenger cars.[3]

Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 47 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873, was the most significant of a series of judicial decisions overturning segregation laws—laws that separate whites and blacks. Reversing its 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537, 16 S. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256, which established the "separate-but-equal" doctrine that found racial segregation to be constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided in Brown that laws separating children by race in different schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides that "[n]o state shall … deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws." In making its decision, the Court declared that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Moreover, the Court found that segregated schools promote in African American children a harmful and irreparable sense of inferiority that damages not only their lives but the welfare of U.S. society as a whole[4]


  1. http://www.auburn.edu/~johnspm/gloss/judicial_activism
  2. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-judicial-restraint.htm
  3. http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Plessy_v._Ferguson
  4. http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Brown_v._Board_of_Education

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