Judicial Activism

An Interdisciplinary Approach to the American and European Experiences

  • Luís Pereira Coutinho
  • Massimo La Torre
  • Steven D. Smith

Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 44)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Judicial Activism, Legal Reasoning and the Concept of Law

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Lawrence A. Alexander
      Pages 15-20
    3. Steven D. Smith
      Pages 21-30
    4. Gonçalo de Almeida Ribeiro
      Pages 31-46
  3. Judicial Activism in Perspective

  4. Judicial Activism in Context

About this book


This volume offers different perspectives on judicial practice in the European and American contexts, both arguably characterized in the last decades by the emergence of novel normative and even policy arguments by judges. The central question deserving the attention of the contributors concerns the degree in which judicial exercises in practical reasoning may amount to forms of judicial usurpation of the legislative function by courts. Since different views as to the nature and scope of legal reasoning lead to different degrees of tolerance regarding what should be admissible to courts, that same nature and scope is thoroughly debated.

The main disciplinary approach is that of general jurisprudence, but the contributions take stock of other disciplines in which judicial activism has been addressed, namely positive theories of judicial behavior. Accordingly, the book also explores the development of interdisciplinary dialogue about the theme.


American Supreme Court Comparative Judicial Politics Constitutional Justice Contextual nature of proportionality European Court of Justice European Court of Justice and the limits to judicial activism European Union and in the context of a constitutional state European macroeconomic constitution European tradition of Constitutional Justice Judicial Activism Judicial Activism and Democracy Judicial activism and institutional constraints Judicial activism and legal theory Judicial activism in its pejorative and non-pejorative senses Judicial activism within the theory of judicial behavior Judicial activism, judicial independence, and judicial hubris Judicial decision-making and epistemic discretion Passivism as a judicial virtue Structure of the legal system

Editors and affiliations

  • Luís Pereira Coutinho
    • 1
  • Massimo La Torre
    • 2
  • Steven D. Smith
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Università "Magna Graecia" di CatanzaroCatanzaroItaly
  3. 3.University of San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

Bibliographic information