It is a theory of judicial interpretation that encourages judges to limit the exercise of their own power.   The common‐law p...

It is a theory of judicial interpretation that encourages judges to limit the exercise of their own power.  

The common‐law principle of judicial restraint serves the public interest by allowing the political processes to operate without undue interference. (Sinaca vs Mula, G.R. No. 135691, September 27, 1999) 

In terms of legislative acts, the principle of judicial restraint means that every intendment of the law must be adjudged by the courts in favor of its constitutionality, invalidity being a measure of last resort. In construing therefore the provisions of a statute, courts must first ascertain whether an interpretation is fairly possible to sidestep the question of constitutionality. (Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 148560, November 19, 2001) 

The doctrine of separation of powers imposes upon the courts proper restraint born of the nature of their functions and of their respect for the other departments in striking down acts of the legislature as unconstitutional. (Francisco, Jr. v. The House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, Bellosillo J., Separate Opinion, November 10, 2003)

The judiciary will not interfere with its co-equal branches when: 
1. There is no showing of grave abuse of discretion 
     (a) PPA v. Court of Appeals: If there is no showing of grave abuse of discretion on the part of a branch or instrumentality of the government, the court will decline exercising its power of judicial review.  
     (b) Chavez v. COMELEC: Judicial review shall involve only those resulting to grave abuse of discretion by virtue of an agency’s quasi-judicial powers, and not those arising from its administrative functions.

2. The issue is a political question. 
     Even when all requisites for justiciability have been met, judicial review will not be exercised when the issue involves a political question. 
     But see Francisco v. House of Representatives (2001). At the same time, the Court has the duty to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion by any instrumentality of government under its expanded judicial review powers. (This allowed the SC to interfere in a traditionally purely political process, i.e. impeachment, when questions on compliance with Constitutional processes were involved.) 

Guidelines for determining whether a question is political or not:
 [Baker v. Carr (369 US 186), as cited in Estrada v. Desierto (2001)]: 
(1) There is a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a political department; 
(2) Lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; 
(3) The impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion; 
(4) Impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government; 
(5) An unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made; 
(6) Potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question 

DISCLAIMER: The author is not lawyer nor an authority on this topic. It is a product of humble research and study of law. It should not be used as sole basis in filing a case, instead, consult your lawyer for proper legal advice.

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