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Abstract

This Article draws on my legislative and judicial background to focus both on the tendency of the courts to exceed their core constitutional role and the implications of such judicial activism. This article contend that modern courts of general jurisdiction are too often embroiled in sociopolitical controversies best left to the political branches of government. Part I addresses the concept of judicial restraint in our constitutional system and the need to define the core powers of the judicial branch of government. Part II discusses principles of judicial restraint in the federal courts. Part III, using the example of Washington State where the judiciary enjoys broad jurisdiction typical of most state court systems,3 analyzes judicial restraint principles in a general jurisdiction court system. Part IV examines several recent Washington cases exploring these principles. Finally, because courts must confine themselves to their appropriate sphere of action, in Part V I will propose a new, overarching principle of justiciability for courts of general jurisdiction, incorporating principles of judicial restraint.