Laws are meant to be abided. The Judiciary has been viewed as the pillar to which mankind can lean for support in times of need. This need pertains to the promotion of justice, equality and trust in the implementation of laws, and policies governing every nation. The United States constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the Land specifically, provides under sec. 2 of Article 3 that “judicial Power” shall be vested in the judiciary, more specifically the US Supreme court and all courts under it.
This means that all cases are to be heard and tries in the court which has jurisdiction but all constitutionally related legal questions shall be under the authority of the Supreme Court. This article is very vital as it espouses the role and relevance of the courts and defines the extent of their participation in administering justice and equality. This would ultimately lead to the great issue of judicial participation and judicial restraint in evaluating cases presented before the honorable courts.
One of the reasons why judicial activism or participation is much favored is the fact that in everyday lives, the news regarding occurrence of crimes and violations of laws has become an acceptable daily routine for most people. Proliferation of information pertaining to violent crimes, various offenses and punishments imposed is soon becoming a regular event, much like the television shows we painstakingly wait to watch. As time passes, the interest fades and fear starts to set in.
Questions on how crimes can be controlled finally surface and evaluation of the Criminal Justice System and the whole function of judiciary becomes a necessity. It is undeniable that what prompt people to analyze what is lacking, for instance in the Justice system is fear. The fear of becoming a victim of the seemingly unreliable justice system present today. Many criticize the fact that it somehow does not serve its purpose. However, few brave souls exist to actually step up and pinpoint the necessary thing that should be given utmost attention. To initiate change is crucial, but to initiate change alone is impossibility.
This argument in favor of judicial activism pinpoints the need for the judiciary to actively input their views and interpretation of the law in order to better gauge the situation and impose the right penalties. This however, can be practiced much effectively when there is judicial restraint. How? Take for example penalties under the law. Criminals would be more fearful of violating these laws if they know that the judiciary’s role is not to sympathize with them and understand why they did something but to implement the law even if it means implementing a harsher punishment.
Not only judicial restraint is practiced but at the same time, actively engaging in the proper administration of justice and equality under the law. This can also minimize confusion. Take for example the case of West Virginia v. Barmette, it could be recalled that Justice Frankfurter emphasized that as member of the court, he is not to decide cases according to his view but according to what the law dictates. Interpreting the constitution can be done but with due regard to judicial restraint. This means that while interpreting the meaning of the constitution, the spirit and the letter of the law should be given due attention.
To strictly adhere to the law, even if it is not what it was originally intended by the framers of the constitution is inhuman. But to liberally construe the law according to whim and caprice is neither a dignified act. Wellington, H. The process of Adjudication. Yale University Press, 1991 Mesarovic, Mihajlo. Mankind at Turning point. New York: EP, 1980. Almond, Gabriel. “Guide to Current American Government”. Congressional Quarterly. The New York Time. June 1983. Sumption, J. Bent sword of Justice. New York, 2002. Tonry, M. Sentencing Reform Impact. Washington D. C. : U. S Department of Justice National Institute of Justice, 1987.