Originally published October 2002.


An independent judiciary is necessary for the protection of our safety, liberty, and civil rights. Yet, today, the American justice system is imperiled by those who seek to politicize what Alexander Hamilton once referred to as our government’s “least dangerous” branch.

Far-Left special interest groups and their allies in the United States Senate have declared war on the bedrock principles of judicial restraint and federalism — and all those who dare to adhere to them.

Their strategy is simple: convince the American public that judicial restraint and federalism imperil the rights of women and minorities and then label adherents to these philosophies as “hostile to civil rights” and unfit for federal judicial service.

In an attempt to respond to these unfounded attacks, the IWF presents this position paper on judicial restraint and federalism — two of the cornerstones of American democracy. This paper will examine briefly the role of the courts in American law and provide context for the current debate over federalism and judicial restraint. By defining these principles for a lay audience, we hope to shed some light on the constitutional context for the current confirmation battles. And we hope to educate the public as to why — contrary to the view espoused by radical special interest groups — judicial adherence to principles of restraint and federalism is critical to the preservation of democracy, liberty, and freedom for all Americans.