Judicial Restraint

Judicial restraint is the opposite of judicial activism. Justices may or may not have a personal bias, but their approach to judicial interpretation is to limit the extent to which they overturn political bodies. This could be based on a view that, as an unelected body, the Supreme Court should defer to institutions with greater democratic legitimacy. It is an approach to the interpretation of the Constitution in which courts show deference to the wishes of political institutions. It suggests political institutions such as Congress should only be overturned if there is clear evidence that the Constitution has been broken. This judicial philosophy limits the impact the Supreme Court has on public policy.

There is ongoing discussion regarding the approach the Supreme Court should take in wielding its authority. Conservative justices often advocate for judicial restraint, a legal philosophy where the Supreme Court aims to minimize conflicts with the president or Congress by seldom overturning their decisions or laws. Judicial restraint is based on the principle of stare decisis, which emphasizes that court rulings should adhere to past precedents whenever feasible, showing deference to previous Supreme Court judgments. While most judges endeavor to uphold precedent to prevent conflicting verdicts, this practice is especially common among proponents of judicial restraint.