The Public Interest

“Judgment” and Judicial Politics

Donald N. Jensen

Fall 1982

SOCIAL policy in this country, as is often observed, is increasingly made by the judiciary. Almost one-half of Boston’s municipal budget is under the control of the federal courts; in 1981 judges presided over the spending of more than $500 million in Massachusetts; hundreds of prisons and jails have been the objects of lawsuits by litigants seeking to improve their conditions; and more than 25,000 civil rights suits have been filed in the federal courts in recent years. In short, judicial action today seems much different than that described by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78.  Hamilton cited “judgment” as the main attribute of the judiciary; it lacked, he said, both force and will.

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