Strategic Judicial Empowerment

When courts seek to strengthen their own institutional power, they often need to be strategic. In many fraught political contexts, judiciaries lack a history of asserting authority against powerful political actors. How can courts with fragile authority establish and enhance judicial power? This article explores the phenomenon of strategic judicial empowerment, offering an account of how and when courts deploy various strategies aimed at enhancing their institutional position vis-à-vis other branches of government. Drawing on recent examples from apex courts in Pakistan, Malawi, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom, it explores the ways in which judges use tools of statecraft to increase the effectiveness of their decisions and enhance their role in the constitutional order. It explores the particular strategies that courts might employ in service of self-empowerment, such as strategies of maxi-minimalism and mini-maximalism.