AP Government Post #4

There is some debate on what Judicial Restraint and Judicial Activism means.  The video below show Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Breyer debate review and activism.  The question is which is better, restraint or activism? Be sure to say way you selected what you selected.  Which justice supports which view point?

Activism or Restraint? (video)

This post will  close on September 27 at 5:00 PM.  If you have questions on how the discussion posts are scored, click on the discussion post page.

105 thoughts on “AP Government Post #4

  1. Hey this is bailey, the website keeps showing a 404 error; I was going to email but I wasn’t sure if you would answer in time

  2. Judicial Restraint is increasingly more important because the decisions made by the Justices’ will be made more carefully since they are limited in their powers. This allows them to make complex and thought out decisions that allow them to review whether or not they are Constitutional. While doing this they are able to make only the most important decisions throughout their processes and rulings. However, Judicial Activism is important to the contributions in the Supreme Court because the Justices’ decisions are analyzed for bias so that they strictly follow Constitutionality rather than personal judgement.

    • I agree that judicial restraint is important; however, I think that sometimes the focus becomes too much on the past and not enough on the present. Times change and I think the court needs to allow room for that in order to make progress.

    • I think judicial activism is more important because it provides for a modern day interpretation of the laws. A great example of this is the civil rights movements and acts that were eventually created. Judicial activism allows for more modern day changes that fit in with today’s society which is why I think judicial activism is better.

    • Judicial Restraint has definitely become more relevant in our society, but I feel that Judicial Activism is needed to accurately portray what the people want, rather than having Justices base their decisions strictly on original interpretations. The interpretation is different now and I think the way they approach those laws should change as well.

      • I agree that there should be more focused on the people’s needs and what the country’s ever-evolving times and cultural necessities are throughout the process. This is why judicial activism is important so that the justices do not vote in favor of their outdated views rather than the constitutional interpretation.

      • I agree that judicial activism is needed in today’s society, but the constitution has lasted this long and I believe that we should follow that. Judicial restraint guarantees the rights of people because it is written down, and therefore it can not be challenged.

      • I disagree a little. I do think that in our society we are seeing a little less judicial restraint. However I do agree that Judicial activism helps accurately represent what the people want. Especially because of all the modern changes and problems that were not evident during the time the constitution was originally written.

      • I agree. There should be more of a “flexibility” on the constitution to focus on what is considered “modern”. I also see Judicial Restraint as “old” or never changing which it is what it is. But that does not follow today’s societal rule as compared to Judicial Activism.

      • I agree that the original interpretations of the constitution don’t accurately reflect the people’s current needs

      • While I agree that the justices will have more careful decisions, I somewhat disagree with the idea that personal thought is always a bad thing

    • Judicial Restraint has definitely become more relevant in our society, but I feel that Judicial Activism is needed to accurately portray what the people want, rather than having Justices base their decisions strictly on original interpretations. The interpretation is different now and I think the way they approach those laws should change as well.

      • I agree. Judicial activism is required to truly represent the American people. Both are useful, but I feel that Judicial activism is crucial. A fixed, unchanging constitution is doomed to fail to meet the needs of the American people. A living document makes much more sense, as it can truly represent the modern views of Americans while maintaining the values of America.

      • I agree with your point that the Constitution was written with a completely different society in mind. The Constitution alone cannot encompass the needs of current society alone. Without Judicial activism, the Constitution could not be applicable in cases today.

    • I really liked your insight on this topic about judicial restraint. I also think it’s important to be used to remain unbiased. However, not everything is lack and white and easy to make strict constitutional judgements on. There has to be some interpretation and judicial activism in order for equity. But I do think there should be some balance

    • I agree that judicial Restraint is important because it allows the power in the courts to be more tedious. The controlled power calls for more thought out decisions and careful thoughts on whether the action was constitutional or not.

  3. Judical Restraint is so more important as It defines a judges decision and or the case a consituionally liable case to hold but Judical Activism is important to how they make the decision so its actually conituionally fair that personally biased through judgement

    • I agree with you on the judicial activism part however I do think judicial restraint is important but not as important as judicial activism.

      • Judicial restraint is important in our society to prevent bias from entering certain areas of government. However, i think activism is far more important because society changes and the officials need to be able to change with society. Also not everything is explicitly outlined in the Constitution, and activism is becoming increasingly important these days as new problems arise.

        • I agree with Elena, judicial activism is more important because the rules and standards need to conform to our rapidly changing society.

    • I agree that judicial activism is still important but I believe interpretations of the constitution are what causes the personal biases in decisions

      • I believe that judicial activism is more important than restraint. The constitution was written over 200 years ago and the founding fathers couldn’t see the future, which is why it’s important to interpret the constitution differently as time passes. We need to adapt our views of the constitution to account for new circumstances and not limit our rights to what is explicitly written.

    • Yes I do agree with your activism clam that is is fully about interpretation. Because of activism we can interpreter the constitution any way we want. There is no wrong answer as long as you have a supporting argument. Restraint will only give it up to the judge to decide and I also believe that is important too.

  4. Judicial Restraint is very important due to the fact that they do have limited powers which helps them make decesions very carefully while making sure it is consitutional. The judicial Activism is important to the contrubutions in the Supreme Court.

    • I agree. I believe both are important because they are limited and precise and must carry along all of the requirements of them through constitutional values. Judicial restraint is the most important out of the two because it focuses on priority cases in which Supreme Court justices should get involved.

      • judicial activism is more relevant in our current society because it modernizes the current issues we face as a country. Judicial activism is more open to interpretation and although it can be seen to be biased towards issues, in my opinion it is better because the resolution isn’t as black and white.

  5. Judicial activism is more important because it provides contemporary interpretations of the law that apply to modern day life. Judicial activism is largely responsible for major advances in civil rights movements and social issues in the United States. While judicial restraint is also important, and restraint and relative objectivity should be maintained in government, judicial activism paves the way for necessary change and progression. It is quite difficult to make decisions without basing a least some part on personal beliefs.

    • I agree that judicial activism is very important in the modern day, but I do not believe that decisions should be made or interpreted with personal belief. Personal belief causes biased and potentially unjust laws. Judicial restraint eliminates this by making sure that if it is not in the constitution, it can not be made.

    • It is very true that judicial activism has helped areas such as civil rights and social issues. interpreting the constitution to apply it to these areas has helped so much and secured so many people’s rights. It will allow for progression that needs to happen as our society continues to change and mold.

    • I agree with you, I think Judicial activism is more important because it will wallop for Justices to better portray what our society wants, especially since our society has become increasingly different.

    • i agree partly, as judicial activism does decipher modern controversial issues, it makes agreements with a personal belief causing that to be preferable and making inadequate laws eventually.

  6. I believe judicial restraint is more important. Although times are changing, the constitution has lasted this long with very few changes. Judicial restraint ensures the rights of people and if something is not written in the constitution, then it can not happen. Judicial activism can be beneficial in many cases, but it would not even be possible without the written constitution. Bryer believes in judicial activism, while Scalia believes in judicial review.

    • I agree with you, times are seriously changing, the constitution has already lasted so many decades without even being changed a lot. I also agree with the fact that Judicial restraint should have the constitution as a guideline of what can and can’t happen.

    • I believe you are forgetting the type of “people” the original constitution included. To say the constitution has lasted through these changes is also to ignore that the creators of this document were wealthy, land owning and people owning white men who were instilled with sexist and racist attitudes. Your viewpoint almost sounds like a “if it’s worked until now, why not keep it” kind of argument. However, this fails to recognize the experience of all non white and non male people within this country. Judicial activism better adheres not only to the public’s understanding of the political system today, but also pushes a more humanity focused agenda. Because as the Supreme Court has demonstrated, the rulings made there establish a precedent throughout the nation — and too often has restraint fallen on behalf of those who are always secondhand.

  7. Judicial activism is more important than judicial restraint. This is because judicial restraint uses very strict philosophies of following the constitution as it is written. Many areas of the constitution do not directly state certain things, meaning it can be up for interpretation. This way activism can interpret those gray areas and apply it to the modern era. However, it is important to have a balanced judge because the constitution should be viewed how it is written as well. This way people’s rights are highly secured. Justice Breyer uses judicial activism and Justice Scalia uses judicial restraint.

    • I agree, Judicial Activism allows the Justices to apply the Constitution to today’s cases. I like how you incorporated that Judicial Activism is necessary because the Constitution does not include certain aspects.

  8. Judicial activism refers to court rulings that are partially based on the judge’s considerations rather than the law directly, whereas Judicial restraint refers to the idea that Judges should adhere directly to written laws. While both types of judicial review are necessary, I believe that Judicial Activism is more important than Judicial Restraint because it adapts more to our growing society and allows for a more contemporary interpretation of our laws. I feel that this type of perspective is needed to accurately portray what the people want instead of fully interpreting laws based on their original context.

    • I like your point about how Judicial Activism allows the Constitution to adapt to the needs of our growing society.

    • i like the direct you had on judicial activism being a judge’s consideration rather than the law directly itself. though i still aim at judicial restraint being better as judges focus on what it rightly written constitutionally.

  9. I believe Judicial activism is superior. I believe this, because I believe that the constitution must apply to the modern day. I believe there should be an active effort to ensure the constitution represents the modern American people, and the future American people. Justice Scalia participates in and believes in Judicial restraint, while Justice Breyer participates in and believes in Judicial activism.

    • I like how you mentioned an active effort, because government is something that is truly always changing and modifying to fit modern day standards and we need to be vigilant in keeping it organized.

  10. I believe that judicial activism is most important but we need some level of judicial restraint. the problems our country faces are always changing and becoming extremely niche. Like how I can say the death penalty is unconstitutional becuase the eight amendment bans cruel and unusual punishment. I couldn say its cruel, though of course many disagree.its then left to personal values, wich is a problem within judicial activism. But I still preferre an interpretation. Justice Scalia supports judicial restraint while justice Breyer supports judicial activism.

    • I would be the one to argue though that the rulings of the Supreme Court are not based solely on whether it’s constitutional or unconstitutional. They are reflective of the moral standpoint of American society and the law establishes a precedent for the states and the nation to follow. We must be careful and precise in identifying real causes of issues.

  11. I believe both judicial restraint and judicial activism are very important for vital decisions in Supreme Court cases. I do not think one is more important altogether. Instead I feel like both should be shown in specific points of time dependent on how the government and people react to any recent cases.

    • I also believe that both are very important especially when dealing with Supreme Court cases. They both play a vital role, although sometimes both are not needed in some cases, but they both play a part at different times.

    • You brought up a valid point but for me personally, I believe it is hard to say that both are of equal importance. Interpreting the constitution word for word and allowing the constitution to be up for any interpretation are completely different. If we lived in a world where the constitution was followed perfectly, things would be completely different from how they are today. I personally believe that activism is better because we leave the constitution open for changes, revisions, and interpretation so it can form with the US as years go on.

  12. Judicial Activism is far more important than judicial restraint in today’s society. With viewpoints changing constantly, America must be aware of the different interpretations and questions to come regarding the “law of the land”—The Constitution and/or Bill of Rights. Every citizen will see it differently, and to get the facts straight there must be a defining of specific laws to clear up any misconceptions.

    • I like how you put that the law of the land needs to be changed as that gives it more of a strong feeling. Also i agree with your last sentence how every citizen is different so we need fine tuned laws.

  13. Personally. Judicial Activism is more important than restraint in our modern society. With the world ideals and view points constantly changing, the people and the government must be aware. This does not mean that judicial restraint is not important. restraint can help ensure the rights of the people at times. Since it believes what is the Consitution is the proper belief, but the it is not completely updated. It was written so long ago that we need to look at our world through a modern looking glass. Justice Scalia participates in and believes in the idea of Judicial restraint, while Justice Breyer participates in and believes that Judicial activism is more important.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with the points that make and I, too, believe that judicial activism is more important although that does not mean judicial restraint is not important. I think both work together to create a balance within the system.

      • I disagree, although a personal representation on the Constitution continues the state of individuality we cherish in this country. We also need to think about following the same set of rules and concepts when it comes to the Constitution

    • I agree with you. I didn’t think about it in the sense that the constitution is a proper belief but now i do see that is true. The constitution did have to be looked over many many times before certain things were given a concrete definition and that is why Judicial activism is very important.

    • Yes I agree that in our modern age judicial activism is extremely useful for our modern problems, but judicial restraint can also be able to solve modern issues. Look at the constitution, it was written hundreds of years ago but is still applicable to many of our issues today.

  14. Justice Scalia describes his textualist, strict constructionist philosophy while Justice Breyer explains his developmentalist, evolutionist philosophy. I am in support of the activism approach because of its adherence to the values and opinions of the society at that time. Holding to a constricting approach does recognize the history and face meaning of the text; however, rulings resulting from constricting rulings can have greater consequences that the people disfavor. It can be agreed that as American society has passed in time, certain general viewpoints on issues have become more favorable in protecting non-conforming peoples and steering towards a morally ethic approach. While it can also be argued that society has regressed in these areas, it must also be recognized that a activist approach allows the court to change with these values. I completely understand the restraint argument in that too often judges are expected to be moral and ethical manifestations rather than lawyers. However, I also understand that the people’s expectation and understanding of government has changed. The activist approach allows more direct civic engagement in the American government, especially in a system already set up to prevent this.

  15. I believe judicial activism is more important than judicial restraint. This is because the world is so diverse and changing. And since the constitution was written so long ago it does need to be updated to fit our modern society. There need to be an effort to make the laws grow with the world.

    • I agree that judges should use judicial activism in their rulings because of the great diversity and constant change of our society. They can still maintain the fundamental values of the Constitution while accounting for the vastly different structure of society today.

  16. Judicial Activism is based on interpreting the meaning of the Constitution in relation to cases. Judicial Restraint is reading the Constitution without interpretation, and using it directly to decide cases. Judicial activism is crucial because the Constitution is supposed to encompass the rights of the citizens. When writing the Constitution the Founding Fathers left out minorities, and women in the direct wording of the Constitution. Therefore, the Constitution had to grow to encompass the rights of the citizen. This is not to say it should be simple to change the Constitution, but changes should be able to take effect to encompass the needs of citizens. The Constitution should be used as a guideline for decisions, cases will continue to differentiate and the Constitution without interpretation cannot cover the needs of society today. The ability to interpret the Constitution keeps the document relevant to society today. Therefore,Judicial Activism is more important than Judicial Restraint.

    • I agree, activism is more important than restraint because of our constantly changing world. We have become so diverse that we need that ability to interpret because without it we wouldn’t be able to protect everyone. I think it depends on the case that either things is important but i see activism as more important nowadays.

    • I agree with the fact that the constitution should be used as a guideline for interpretation in order to help in today’s society.

  17. I believe that judicial activism is more crucial because the constitution is a living document so it should be allowed to be interpreted. Our constitution was written 200+ years ago and left many groups of people out. Our society has grown and our country has become a safe haven for many groups of people from all over the world who come here because of problems faced in their own countries. The constitution was not written to protect women or minorities and it needs that ability to have it interpreted to cover all of America’s citizens as a whole.

    • I completely agree. With activism, the constitution can now be interpreted and altered to help groups like women and minorities who were previously bypassed in the constitution.

    • I totally agree with your statement I do personally believe that the constitution needs to be interpreted equally for all to cover America’s citizens as a whole and this is why judicial restraint is important because it gives everyone the rights that are strictly written in the constitution.

    • I also agree with your points. Aspects such as women, and minority groups are would definitely be problematic without judicial activism.

  18. I personally believe that judicial activism is more important and overall better than judicial restraint. With judicial restraint, you have to follow what the constitution says to it’s exact point. Where as Judicial Activism leaves the constitution to be up for interpretation and implications. As the world changes around us, as the environment of people change, the constitution has to change as well. To fit in today’s day and age. If we follow the constitution to it’s every word exactly, we don’t have flexibility. Things that are considered right and wrong would take on a new purpose due to us only following the constitution perfectly. With activism, this living document is able to be interrupted in ways that were not specified in the constitution

    • I actually agree with what you are saying about how the environment and our society is changing and the constitution isnt, but on the other hand, we as people need to have a set ground where we can turn to concerning important aspects, and that is what judicial restraint provides us with.

  19. Personally, I believe that judicial activism is important, but as a citizen, I do want my supreme court judges to use judicial restraint. I think that as a society, we need to use judicial activism to make sure we are protecting our current citizens, as the constitution is a bit dated, but I do not want a judges personal view to prohibit me from my constitutional rights. That is where judicial restraint is important to me. Justice Antonin Scalia was a big proponent of this, while Justice Stephen G. Breyer followed more of a judicial activism pattern.

    • I agree with your point to an extent to where I think judicial restraint is important but I also think that judicial activism can be good also and I think there should be an equal balance of justices with different point of views on judicial restraint and activism because not every judge is going to have the same belief.

  20. I certainly believe judicial activism is an important factor within our laws today. It allows them to adjust with society. In which, for instance say if actually relied on the constitution from its dated back context. This wouldn’t work in society today because times have changed. So judicial activism is significantly important.

    • I agree that judicial activism is important in that it allows for the crucial ability of the laws that impact the lives of all Americans to adjust as society does. Times have changed too much for strict interpretations of multiple parts of the Constitution to even be relevant.

    • I agree. It is important for current day situations to be handled with current day ideologies and not ideas from 200 plus years ago.

    • I like how you address the fact that if the Court was to strictly adhere to the direct wording of the Constitution it would not be effective nor applicable due to the vast difference in the society it was written for and the society we have become today.

  21. I think judicial activism is important. As judicial activism leaves the constitution up for interpretation and allows modern ideas to be sewn in rather then thinking in the past and not having much change. Judicial activism leaves room for justices and the people to speak in modern times.

    • I agree with you on activism but in specific cases restraint is required to make sure the authority of the constitution in maintained

  22. I think that Judicial activism is important because it allows for the constitution to morph into the different cultures society holds. However, I do strongly believe that judicial restraint should not be avoided. There are many words spoken clearly in the constitution that leaves very little to interpret differently. In the video the Judge Scalia believes in judicial restraint and the Judge Bryer believes in activism.

  23. It is dangerous for Supreme Court justices to allow their decisions to be swayed by their own personal values rather than be based completely on their interpretation of the Constitution. However, I agree with Justice Breyer that decisions should be made by taking into account the fundamental reasons behind and values of the text of the Constitution rather than with a strictly literal interpretation because we live in a vastly different world today.

  24. Supreme Court judges are people just like we are. They will interpret the Constitution differently than eachother and allowing for the personal interpretation of the Constitution brings alot of controversy in to court rooms. Jusicial restraint is better because it allows for singular set of rules for all of us to live by. No one can say they dont know the rules because they are clearly putlined for all of us. Limiting the amount of court cases which are solely dependent on how you interpreted the same sentence.

  25. In my opinion judicial restraint is more important than activism because it takes the basis of the constitution and ensures that what is written in it. I think this is more important than activism because it ensures the rights given to us that are written in the constitution and if something is not written directly than it cannot be applied. Judicial activism takes the shady areas of the constitution and interprets them into its own way. This can be helpful but I think it is more important to have your rights clearly stated so that there is no question wether something is constitutional or not. Justice Breyer believes in judicial activism whereas justice Scalia believes in judicial restraint.

  26. While in some situations I feel restraint is the correct choice, the majority of cases now call for more judicial activism. the Constitution may have been left intentionally vague there is a lot of things that it does not cover in our modern times. so activism is needed to try and interpret on how some parts may be applicable or not applicable today.

    • I agree with the constitution being left vague. It pertained to American society when it was written, not for today. Although we should follow most of those rules, I feel that we should also have our own moral standpoint on what should be done and what is right and wrong.

  27. I believe that judicial activism is more important. It makes sure that the judges in court use their power to correct injustices that may be presented in court that don’t follow the constitution. Judicial activism also plays a role in making sure the rights of the people are protected. It is also important because judicial activism plays a big roll in addressing social and political issues since todays society is constantly changing.

    • I agree that judicial activism is needed but I think we should have a level of judicial restraint so we dont misinterpret some parts of the constitution that are saying what they need to say already

  28. Justice Breyer advocates for judicial activism as opposed to judicial restraint and I would agree in that times are changing and the government should adapt to that. In addition, the constitution does not explicitly address everything ever, and new problems arise, which only further emphasizes the need for judicial activism in America.

    • I agree with you in the idea of adapting. Our views on certain situations are not the same from when the constitution was created. The constitution is vague on view points and should be interpreted through everyone’s different opinions.

  29. In my personal opinion, I believe that judicial restraint is more important because this aspect follows the constitution whereas judicial activism is based off of personal opinion. Yes, in some instances they both show equal importance, but judicial restraint allows the people, through their elected representatives, make policy choices. For example in Korematsu v. United States the court refused to interfere with legislative decisions unless they explicitly violated the Constitution. Yes, not interfering can sometimes not help the way systems work but also going off of personal opinions could cause more problems instead of fixing them.

  30. in my opinion, i believe judicial restraint is the most essential as it makes straight out decisional thoughts based off of the original interpretations of the constitution. the original constitution fits by relating to modern day laws and our society today in helping to solve those problems. judicial restraint eliminates ones personal opinion from being in the way as well from the law issues.

  31. Although judicial restraint is important for controlling decisions, judicial activism is a modern look on the constitution. It is a way to look through the archaic language of the constitution and apply it to America today. Judicial Activism is a way to enforce modern ideals on the laws and on the base of America.

  32. I fell that Judicial activism is the most important because it gives the Judges more of a variety to think about the current case and what they should do. Strictly interpreting the constitution can be good but it is also very out of date and does not pertain to today’s American society. Also, the certain case that is listed may be interpreted hundreds of different ways and it is needed for a Judge to Judge instead of just looking at the constitution.

  33. I think that both judicial restraint and judicial activism is important. But I do believe that judicial activism is slightly more important because of the fact that society is always changing and the constitution is so old and outdated to today’s time. But both should be used to create a balance in the system. Justice Scalia believed in judicial restraint while justice Breyer believes in judicial activism.

  34. In all honesty, the Judicial Restraint has to be substantially more important than Judicial Activism. At the end of the day Judicial Restraint is made by the Justices who unquestionably hold limited power, so their decisions will be made with thorough examination of the whole situation. They then have the ability to come to a conclusion on weather or not their rulings are Constitutional. In the Supreme Court, Judicial Activism also plays a major role in the benefaction of the Justices’ decisions. It also strictly Constitutional based outcomes, therefore there is no room for people with biased opinions or people that let their own perceptions cloud their judgment.

  35. Before the video I didn’t think that judicial restraint was a very good methodology when it comes to the supreme court, but after the video I have a newfound respect for it. Although I do prefer judicial activism as it expresses modern ideas, judicial restraint can still be used to make good rulings and progress us as a society. The use of deep analysis in the supreme court makes judicial restraint able to be used for good, although the constitution is an old paper it can still be used as a ruling on our modern problems.

  36. i believe that judicial activism is more important. This is because the constitution needs to be interpreted in a modern way to fix modern society. Times were much difference when the constitution was created, and if we were to follow the constitution exactly how it is written we would never progress.

  37. While watching the video, I found myself agreeing with Justice Breyer’s points more, and I believe that Judicial activism more important. The constitution does have some straightforward meaning in which there isn’t much room for interpretation. This is true with the death penalty example that is brought up. But, as times change, the constitution must keep up with human advancements, and societies values as well. It’s definitely understandable judicial Restraint appeals to others, and it should definitely be applied in some instances too.

  38. Judicial Activism allows judges to use their powers in order to fix constitutional legal injustice. This concept also focuses on modern ideas which can be beneficial to the supreme court. Judicial Restraint urges judges to refrain from deciding certain legal issues. I am definitely on the side of Judicial Activism as it supports more modern ideas.

  39. Judicial activism interprets the Constitution to be in favor of contemporary values. In judicial activism, judges are able to use their powers as judges in order to correct a constitutional legal injustice. Judicial restraint limits the powers of judges to strike down a law.i feel like judicial Restraint is better because it allows the people, through their elected representatives, to make policy choices.

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