Courts have become an increasing focus for political contestation in Southeast Asia. Yet little is known about the basis of their political power and legitimacy. Drawing on recent scholarship in the field of judicial politics, and presenting a case study of the Philippine Supreme Court after the transition to democracy in 1986, this article explores the conditions under which the Court has exercised its powers in the context of a democratizing state such as the Philippines. More specifically, it will show how strong public support has enabled the Court to exercise its judicial review powers and its authority over contending political actors. In drawing attention to the understudied link between public support and judicial assertiveness, the paper aims to advance existing scholarship by going beyond existing indicators of judicial independence and to provide new insights into the dynamics of evolving constitutional practice in the region through the interaction of the courts with the public.