Judicial restraint is a theory of judicial interpretation that encourages judges to limit the exercise of their own power. It asserts that judges should hesitate to strike down laws unless they are obviously unconstitutional, though what counts as obviously unconstitutional is itself a matter of some debate. Judicial restraint is sometimes regarded as the opposite of judicial activism. In deciding questions of constitutional law, judicially-restrained jurists go to great lengths to defer to the legislature. Former Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., considered to be one of the first major advocates of the philosophy, would describe the importance of judicial restraint in many of his books. Former Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter, a Democrat appointed by Franklin Roosevelt, is generally seen as the 'model of judicial restraint'. Judicially-restrained judges respect stare decisis, the principle of upholding established precedent handed down by past judges.
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