In the wake of the Reagan administration's numerous judicial appointments, it is the rare observer of the American legal scene who has not thought seriously about the proper role of the judge in enforcing the law. Editorialists, columnists, and academicians are all debating in one form or another the classic jurisprudential question: "What is law?" While such questions have never completely dropped from sight, we are now in a period of constructive intellectual turmoil much like those surrounding the Nuremburg trials and the civil rights movement. Such periods are usually characterized by, and perhaps caused by, a perception among an influential elite that there is a lot at stake. One of the most significant developments in the current debate has been a schism between conservative and classical liberal intellectuals on the issue of the proper role of the judiciary. Some of these intellectuals have hewed to a stance known as "judicial conservatism." Others have urged a more activist judicial role, a view that I have previously called "judicial pragmactivism" and that has recently been referred to as a "principled judicial activism. '"
Randy E. Barnett, Judicial Conservatism v. A Principled Judicial Activism: Foreword to the "Symposium on Law and Philosophy," 10 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 273 (1987).
Scholarly Commons Citation
Barnett, Randy E., "Judicial Conservatism v. A Principled Judicial Activism: Foreword to the "Symposium on Law and Philosophy"" (1987). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1549.