Skip to content

Judicial activism vs. Judicial restraint

Judicial activism vs. Judicial restraint

The debate between judicial activism and judicial restraint is an ongoing one. Judicial activists believe that the Supreme Court should take action on abortion, same-sex marriage, or capital punishment to make decisions fairer for everyone involved.

On the other hand, judicial restraint is when a judge decides not to do anything about a law that may be unconstitutional because they don’t want to overstep their boundaries. This article will discuss both sides of this issue by exploring arguments from each perspective before concluding with which type of justice is best for our country’s democracy.

The recent Supreme Court case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, has sparked a conversation about judicial activism vs. judicial restraint which is vital to many people in the United States today for different reasons. This post will explore the two concepts and shed light on what they mean in regards to this specific case and how you can apply them to your everyday life.


The first thing we’ll look at is “judicial activism.” Judicial activism means when judges make decisions that go beyond their authority or power to make an impactful change that alters society even though it’s not within the scope of their job description. It also means making up laws without any legal backing. An excellent example of this would be Roe V Wade.

The judiciary adjudicates legal disputes and interprets, defends, and applies the law in legal cases. The active role of the judiciary includes upholding and promoting the rights of citizens in a country.

The judiciary also acts as a system that works for the resolution of disputes.

What is Judicial Activism?

In simple words, Judicial Activism is the active role of judges in interpreting the law, breaking the precedent, and finding constitutional violations.

Judges allow their personal views and work on upholding citizens’ rights, preserving the constitutional and legal system through result-oriented judging.

Judicial activism gives access to justice and offers relief to disadvantaged groups of a country.

What do Judicial Activists do?

Judicial activists work to rule on lawsuits in a way that results in a preferred or desired outcome, regardless of what is written in the law. It is the sphere in which judges overrule certain acts or judgments to protect a wider perspective. 

What does Judicial Restraint mean?

Judicial Restraint is the opposite of judicial activism. It refers to limiting the power of the judiciary to strike down a law.

Difference between Judicial Activism and Judicial Restraint

Judicial activism and judicial restraint have different outcomes.

Judicial Activism plays an important role in formulating social policies on civil rights protection and political unfairness.

Judicial Restraint allows courts to state legislature and upload acts of congress unless they violate the constitution.

Judicial Activism sets out a system of balances and controls for the government. It highlights the required change by providing a solution.

Judicial Restraint, the courts by and large concede to interpretations of the constitution by the congress or some other established body.

Judicial Activism allows judges to utilize their personal judgment on issues in case of imbalances. 

Judicial Restraint helps in preserving a balance among the judiciary, executive and legislative branch of government.

Judicial Activism works on courts playing a proactive role in ensuring and protecting citizens’ rights.

Judicial Restraint encourages the court to review an existing law instead of modifying it. 

In conclusion: 

Judicial Restraint is the second face of the coin, whereas Judicial Activism serves as a source that upholds its legal and constitutional rights. It puts obligations on it to follow constitutional laws while implementing its duties. However, Judicial activism can harm the public sometimes as personal or selfish motives may influence the judgment. 

Only a fine balance between these government bodies can maintain constitutional values. 

An Activism Story Our Core Values