15 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2002
Date Written: November 2002
The process of decision of cases by panels of multiple judges reinforces a natural tendency toward judicial activism - defined in this paper as decisions reflecting judges' personal preferences rather than neutral grounds of adjudication - because judges who suppress their personal preferences control the outcomes of fewer cases and thereby concede power to the activists.
This point is bolstered with a few observations about two recent Supreme Court cases, Bush v. Gore and Clinton v. Jones. The former is widely viewed as an instance of judicial activism while the latter is not. I argue, however, that Clinton v. Jones is a purer exercise in judicial activism.
The piece is also laced with dispeptic remarks about academic commentators, whose responses to judicial activism usually mirror shamelessly their own personal preferences.
Keywords: judicial activism, supreme court, adjudication
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