The exercise of constitutional review by an independent and active judiciary is commonly regarded as against the interest of current government officials, who presumably prefer to exercise power without interference. In this article, I advance an "overcoming obstructions" account of why judicial review might be supported by existing power holders. When current elected officials are obstructed from fully implementing their own policy agenda, they may favor the active exercise of constitutional review by a sympathetic judiciary to overcome those obstructions and disrupt the status quo. This provides an explanation for why current officeholders might tolerate an activist judiciary. This dynamic is illustrated with case studies from American constitutional history addressing obstructions associated with federalism, entrenched interests, and fragmented and cross-pressured political coalitions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations