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Judicial Activism

What's the Issue?

Judicial activism is the term used to define judges acting as lawmakers. In 1803, the U.S. Supreme Court defined its role as accurately defining what the law is. This means that judges act as interpreters of the law, if and when the law, or its application, is confusing. In recent years, judges have left this traditional understanding of judicial review and have begun legislating from the bench.

What is the Current Debate?

Judicial activism violates the balance of powers laid out in the state and federal Constitutions. It takes authority away from the elected legislature, and puts judges in the position of both lawmaker and judge. When this happens, people lose their right to representation.

A good example of judicial activism is the Ohio School Funding case. In this case, the seven justices of the Ohio Supreme Court are dictating education policy in direct opposition to laws passed by the General Assembly.