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Measuring Judicial Activism$
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Stefanie A. Lindquist and Frank B. Cross

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195370850

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195370850.001.0001

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Identifying Judicial Activism

Identifying Judicial Activism

(p.29) two Identifying Judicial Activism
Measuring Judicial Activism

Stefanie A. Lindquist

Frank B. Cross (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

To assess judicial activism empirically, this chapter looks more explicitly at the potential for dimensions of judicial activism to be identified and measured. Because the exercise of judicial review is so important to the debate over activist judging, the chapter begins its analysis by identifying the justices' willingness to strike state and federal legislation as a critical element to the concept of judicial activism. It also suggests that invalidating the choices made by executive agencies also constitutes a dimension to judicial activism given the electoral connection to the President. In addition, institutional aggrandizement by the judiciary—by expanding access to the judiciary via doctrines of justiciability (standing, mootness and the like) and invalidating existing precedent—are also identified as dimensions to activist decision making. Finally, the chapter concludes, to distinguish activist from “principled” decision making, that these dimensions must be evaluated in light of the justices' willingness to vote in furtherance of their own ideologies. Thus, the chapter identifies two basic dimensions to judicial activism: institutional activism (reflecting the justices' willingness to vote to strike legislation, etc.) and ideological activism (reflecting their willingness to do so in accordance with their personal policy preferences). The chapter also identifies the data sources (the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database) for the project, and the empirical/statistical approach the book will employ.

Keywords:   ideology, deference, institutional aggrandizement, judicial policy preferences, result-oriented judging, U.S. Supreme Court Database

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