Judicial Activism

             Judicial Activism is a doctrine that describes the way a court should actively access its’ power as a check to the activities of governmental bodies, when it is thought that those bodies have exceeded their authority. Roger Clegg, vice president of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest describes his definition a little differently. He writes that it is the act of a judge abusing his/her power by asserting his/her opinion of what the law should be, instead of what it really is. Clegg feels that in its’ history the Supreme Court has often constructed new constitutional rights with no basis from constitutional background. Roger Clegg is a strong opponent of judicial activism. He also feels that judges in today’s courts are setting up policies, which they have no competence in doing, at the state and national level. Clegg says that policymaking needs to be left in the hands of elected officials. Judges are setting up gay-rights ordinances in Colorado and making welfare policy for illegal immigrants in California (Clegg p.246). According to Clegg these are policies that legislative branch should be dealing with, not the judicial branch. When judges take on policymaking they take it out of the hands of qualified members. They also remove it from the compromising political process. He says that an activist court is not one that makes decisions based on the Constitution, but by personal views.
             According to Clegg, one of the best examples of judicial activism was the Supreme Courts’ decision between Roe versus Wade. The court constructed a constitutional “right” to abortion. This very controversial issue needed to be further discussed before the Supreme Courts ruling. Their decision took the issue out of the hands of our elected officials. The Supreme Court judges quickly decided that under the Constitution, the right to privacy was broad enough to include the mother’s decision to abort. No court sho...

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