Measuring Judicial Activism

Stefanie A. Lindquist, Frank B. Cross

Research output: Book/ReportBook

58 Scopus citations


This book explores the theoretical and empirical dimensions to this controversial subject. The main aim of the book is to shift the focus of the academic and political debate over judicial activism to a more objective, empirically-based approach to analyzing activism in appellate courts. Focusing on the justices' voting behavior on the United States Supreme Court from 1954 to 2004, the book first identifies theoretical dimensions to judicial activism based on scholars' attention to the Court's potential for countermajoritarian action. In particular, the book considers the propensity of the justices to (1) strike down legislation enacted by state and federal elected officials, (2) invalidate executive branch actions in connection with judicial review of administrative agencies, (3) expand the power of the federal judiciary through increasing access to the courts, and (4) alter prevailing legal rules by overturning precedent. All of these dimensions are also evaluated in terms of the justices' propensities to vote in these areas in accordance with their own personal policy preferences. The final chapter creates a "judicial activism scale" for the justices serving on the Court during the Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist Courts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages192
ISBN (Electronic)9780199870790
ISBN (Print)9780195370850
StatePublished - May 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Countermajoritarianism
  • Judicial activism
  • Judicial decision making
  • Judicial restraint
  • Supreme court

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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