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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:18

Video transcript

what were you do in this video is talk about the terms judicial activism and judicial restraint in many videos we have talked about how the judicial branch one of its main powers is to be a check on the executive and legislative branch that it can exercise judicial review over them it can say that a legislative action that a law that a statute is unconstitutional it can say that an executive action say a rule or regulation or an executive order is unconstitutional but as its doing that as its exercising its judicial review how does it go about doing that and this term judicial activism was first introduced by Arthur Schlessinger who we've talked about in other videos and it's meant to imply a judiciary that is not strictly just ruling based on maybe what the Constitution says but also their own personal ideas so personal personal views it sometimes has an implication that the judges are overreaching in some way some people might say it and this would be a little bit of a negative legislating from the Brent from the bench legislating legislating from the bench and you'll often hear that hey that judge or that court is legislating from the bench from the people who don't like their ruling they're saying hey they're not strictly looking at the law they're trying to make their own laws through their rulings now some would say that it's it's necessary for the judicial to do this because they are interpreting the Constitution in the world as it is and the world that we are in changes over time so it is really a form of positive activism that they are defending liberties that they're defending rights especially in the social context that we're in I'll leave you to decide whether you think this is a good idea or not now judicial restraint is the opposite of it this is a situation where the judges or the courts limit their power so limit limit their own power their own power where they say hey look our job is to just be the umpire the referee our job is not to make new rules and so we are just going to strictly think about whether something is constitutional or whether it is not and this one of the most seminal cases on judicial activism versus judicial restraint happened in the early 1960s and that is the case of Baker versus Carr and so what happens is is that Baker is a resident of Shelby County Tennessee he was actually the former mayor of a town outside of Memphis which is in this area right over here and he says that look the state is not reapportioning its legislative districts the way it should be that in general every 10 years there is a census and based on that we have an understanding of where the population sits and then the state should be reapportioning districts based on population but what Baker argued is is that the state of Tennessee actually did not read istrict since 1901 after the census of 1900 and it was now the early 1960s and he says because of that and he invoked the 14th amendment you weren't getting equal protection that people in his County where that had gotten increasingly urban and had gotten increasingly dense over the course of those 60 years that they were getting the same representation despite having a larger population than some of the rural areas where they have a lower population and had the same number of Representatives and so he takes this case against the secretary of state of Tennessee at the time who was car and it eventually gets to the Supreme Court and the essential question in Baker versus Carr is whether the courts even have jurisdiction over legislative districting because the districting was a power of the state legislature in Tennessee and in this case the United States Supreme Court actually did vote in favor of Baker so not only did they say that Baker was right in asking for this redistricting and had huge implications in saying that yes courts like the United States Supreme Court do have jurisdiction over something that was officially a legislative duties telling the legislative that look you've got to do this because by not do this action by exercising your discretion there you might not be allowing everyone to have equal protection we have argued including the two dissenters to the opinion that this was a form of judicial activism it increased the power of the judiciary and to appreciate the view of the United States Supreme Court that they do have jurisdiction over legislative districting here is part of Associate Justice Douglass's concurring opinion where the performance of a duty is left to the discretion and good judgment of an executive officer the judiciary will not compel the exercise of his discretion one way or the other for to do so would be to take over the office so he's saying look when it is someone's job where there's an executive officer to do this duty then the courts should not have jurisdiction there but then he goes on to write there is no doubt that the federal courts have jurisdiction of controversies concerning voting rights the Civil Rights Act gives them authority to redress the deprivation under color of any state law of any right privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens really saying that look if the court can see that some right is being violated some - right that's described in any under the state law under the United States Constitution then the courts do have jurisdiction the right to vote in both federal and state elections was protected by the judiciary long before that right receives the explicit protection it is now accorded so he's saying look even before civil the Civil Rights Act even before the 14th amendment that this was something that was part of the charter of the judiciary part of the federal court system and so it does lean in favor of judicial activism because you could imagine courts and they have cited Baker versus Carr since the 1960's repeatedly as reason saying hey look we're trying to protect people's rights and people have a right to do X Y or Z even if it hasn't been explicitly legislated now there were two dissenters and this is what the dissenters wrote the courts Authority neither of the purse nor the sword so here's the purse that's the legislative branch that can think about budgets or the sword that's the executive branch the president's the commander in chief ultimately rests on sustained public confidence in its moral sanction let me underline that on sustained public confidence in its moral sanction such feeling must be nourished by the courts complete detachment in fact and in appearance from political entanglements and by AB stanchion from injecting itself into the clash of political forces in political settlements so here Associate Justice frankfurter in his dissenting opinion is saying look we should stay out of this that not only is it not our part to rule here to say that hey look the legislative needs to do this redistricting again he's saying that it actually undermines the credibility of the court that the credibility ultimately rests on sustained public confidence in its moral sanction and that by ruling in favor of Baker the court was overstepping these bounds that people would say hey you're trying to legislate from the Brandt bench you're trying to get involved in the political even though the court is supposed to stay above the fray of the political or another way to think about this is that Associate Justice frankfurter subscribe to the idea of judicial restraint and felt that the other six justices that were voting in favor of Baker were practicing to some degree judicial activism they were getting into the territory of the other branches of government