This article examines how the independence of the judiciary influences the development of civil liberties. Using data on 130 countries between 1981 and 2010, there is a significant positive relationship between judicial independence and adherence to civil liberties. These findings extend the scope of previous research by including new measures, cases, and time periods. Using qualitative content analysis and historical perspectives, the article then assesses the development of civil liberties before and after the advent of multiparty politics in Kenya. The results suggest that judiciaries in transitional democracies like Kenya hold the potential to catalyze the development of civil liberties law given certain legal, constitutional, and institutional dynamics. As such changes unfold, precedence-setting or groundbreaking judicial decisions, or both, with regard to civil liberties become more likely.