I had an interesting discussion with my father-in-law about the term "judicial activism" which has led me to eschew the term. Here's the reason: He made the observation, I think from a story on NPR, that though conservatives seem to complain the most about liberal activism from the bench, in fact majorities of conservative judges on the Supreme Court have struck down more laws than their liberal counterparts. It was the striking down of laws they considered "activist".
After thinking about this for a moment, it made me realize that he, and I guess NPR, used the term judicial activism differently than I do. As a fairly strong libertarian, when I have referred negatively to judicial activism, I generally am thinking about judicial decisions to create new powers for the government and/or, from the bench, to put new restrictions on individual behavior. In that sense, I think of decisions like Raich to be activist, because they sustain expansions of federal and government power. As I have listened to both liberals and conservatives now, I realize that my usage of judicial activism is, ahem, out of the mainstream, and therefore confusing. My personal concern is how the courts have ignored the 9th amendment and thrown the commerce clause out the window.
I have decided that, as most people use the term, I am neutral to positive on what the majority refer to as judicial activism. I think a lot more laws should be thrown out as unconstitutional, and if
this is the accepted definition of activist, them I like activism. For example, I wish they had been more active in striking down laws and government activities in Raich and Kelo.
Until I come up with a better term, I now describe myself as being against judicial expansion of federal power. Maybe I can coin the term "judicial expansionism"?