Activist Judges

CJR Daily: Archives:
... Instead of scoring the judges on how often they affirmed or overturned lower court rulings, Gewirtz and Golder asked a different question: 'How often has each justice voted to strike down a law passed by Congress?'

Since 1994 (when the court assumed its current composition), Gewirtz and Golder write, the Supreme Court has upheld or struck down 64 Congressional provisions. The most 'activist' judges, as measured by this yardstick: Clarence Thomas, who voted to strike down the laws in question 65.63 percent of the time, and Anthony Kennedy, close behind with a 64.06 percent off-with-their-heads performance. The least activist judges by this measure are Stephen Bryer, who voted to overthrow percent 28.13 percent of the time, and Ruth Ginsburg, who did so 39.06 percent.

In short, it's the liberal judges who are most conservative about upending established law, and the conservative judges who are most willing to overturn a Congressional majority by judicial edict.


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