Court activism sets up ‘vicious cycle’
Judicial activism creates a vicious cycle that undermines confidence in court decisions, says a long-serving United States federal appellate judge, Diarmuid O’Scannlain, brought to New Zealand by the US State Department.
Judge O’Scannlain referred to the present “conversation” between New Zealand politicians and the judiciary on the question of judicial activism – when judgments reflect what judges want the law to be rather than applying the law.
But he said he would “never deign to take sides in such a debate”.
However, speaking at the United States Embassy in Wellington yesterday, Judge O’Scannlain, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan 18 years ago, was highly critical of the effects of judicial activism.
“Eschewing judicial restraint for judicial activism such as this can generate a vicious cycle by triggering a lack of confidence in judicial decisions, which thereby stimulates political meddling, which again reinforces a lack of confidence in judicial decisions.”