The (Relative) Passivity of Goodridge V. Department of Public Health

25 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2005


The charge of judicial activism is sure to follow when the exercise of judicial review upsets a majoritarian preference, as in the 2003 case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the state constitutional commitment to equality. But it is often unclear just what "judicial activism" means. One understanding equates judicial activism with a court's efforts to enhance the judiciary's power vis-a-vis other sources of public authority. Using this formulation, this article seeks to explore where Goodridge falls on the continuum between judicial passivity and judicial hegemony.

Keywords: Same-sex marriage, Passivity , Psychology, Marriage licenses, Remedies, Judicial activism , Equality before the law, Government regulation

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Lawrence, The (Relative) Passivity of Goodridge V. Department of Public Health. Boston University Public Interest Law Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2004, Available at SSRN:

Lawrence Friedman (Contact Author)

New England Law | Boston ( email )

154 Stuart Street
Boston, MA 02116
United States
617-451-0010 (Phone)

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