27,279 research outputs found

    Stare Decisis and Constitutional Text

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    Almost everyone acknowledges that stare decisis should play a significant role when the Supreme Court of the United States resolves constitutional cases. Yet the academic and judicial rationales for this practice tend to rely on naked consequentialist considerations, and make only passing efforts to square the Court\u27s stare decisis doctrines with the language of the Constitution. This Article offers a qualified defense of constitutional stare decisis that rests exclusively on constitutional text. It aims to broaden the overlapping consensus of interpretive theories that can support a role for constitutional stare decisis, but to do this it must narrow the circumstances in which stare decisis can be applied

    Of Sinking and Escalating: A (Somewhat) New Look at Stare Decisis

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    This article explores the concept of stare decisis from the escalation of commitment perspective. I argue that the theory of escalation of commitment provides a powerful tool that can be used in our understanding of the application of stare decisis . The literature on the use of precedent is extensive; however, this Article develops a new way of looking at case law development and stare decisis . In particular, the Article contemplates stare decisis as a decision-making process and then considers the academic literature in order that we may gain some insight into that process

    Expanding Stare Decisis: The Role of Precedent in the Unfolding Dialectic of Brady v. Maryland

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    Does stare decisis constrain the expansion of constitutional doctrine? Does existing precedent preclude the Supreme Court from expanding a criminal defendant’s right to exculpatory evidence? While commentators frequently clash on when stare decisis should prevent the Court from overruling its own precedents, the question of when fidelity to precedent should inhibit doctrinal expansion is surprisingly under-theorized. This Article begins to fill this gap through an in-depth case study of stare decisis and the expansion of criminal due process doctrine. This Article analyzes the longstanding constitutional dialectic between procedural and substantive schools of criminal due process. Focus is on Brady v. Maryland – the Court’s landmark 1963 decision that requires prosecutors to disclose favorable evidence to criminal defendants. Last Term, Justice Scalia argued in his Connick v. Thompson concurrence that Brady’s scope does not extend to prosecutorial disclosure of untested evidence that could prove innocence. Though coherent, Scalia’s argument depends on a particularly formal approach to stare decisis and a procedural view of due process. His argument against expanding Brady can be contested by what I term a “justificatory” approach to stare decisis and a competing substantive view of due process. This recent conflict between formal and justificatory stare decisis approaches and competing due process schools reflects a deeper metadoctrinal pattern. Based on a close reading of over a century of case law, this Article demonstrates how successful justificatory stare decisis arguments have facilitated expansion of criminal due process while formal stare decisis arguments have constrained doctrinal growth. Building on prior work, I illustrate the Brady dialectic and its relationship to stare decisis through graphical “opinion maps” that chart rival lines of majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions. Mapping this key due process territory offers insight on the deeper conflict between substance and procedure in due process jurisprudence as well as a generalizable method for studying the impact of stare decisis on constitutional adjudication

    Principle or Partisanship: An Analysis of the Role Stare Decisis Plays in Supreme Court Jurisprudence

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    In this thesis, I analyze the reasons that Supreme Court overturns precedent, and how, if at all, does the doctrine of stare decisis impact those decisions. The Supreme Court’s decisions are often politicized and viewed as a result of the Supreme Court Justices’ ideological views. Simply, they abide by precedents they agree with and abandon ones they do not. While the impact of ideology on Supreme Court decisions is unclear, I find that the doctrine of stare decisis plays an important role in their jurisprudence. In fact, the doctrine of stare decisis has increasingly dominated cases that reverse a prior Supreme Court decision. Modern iterations of the Supreme Court discuss stare decisis in more detail than their predecessors. The Supreme Court’s treatment of precedent varies over time; however, its general reverence for stare decisis will likely persist in the future

    Expanding Stare Decisis: The Role of Precedent in the Unfolding Dialectic of Brady v. Maryland

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    Does stare decisis constrain the expansion of constitutional doctrine? Does existing precedent preclude the Supreme Court from expanding a criminal defendant’s right to exculpatory evidence? While commentators frequently clash on when stare decisis should prevent the Court from overruling its own precedents, the question of when fidelity to precedent should inhibit doctrinal expansion is surprisingly undertheorized. This Article begins to fill this gap through an in-depth case study of stare decisis and the expansion of criminal due process doctrine. The Article analyzes the longstanding constitutional dialectic between procedural and substantive schools of criminal due process. Focus is on Brady v. Maryland—the Court’s landmark 1963 decision that requires prosecutors to disclose favorable evidence to criminal defendants. Last Term, Justice Scalia argued in his Connick v. Thompson concurrence that Brady’s scope does not extend to prosecutorial disclosure of untested evidence that could prove innocence. Though coherent, Justice Scalia’s argument depends on a particularly formal approach to stare decisis and a procedural view of due process. His argument against expanding Brady can be contested by what I term a “justificatory” approach to stare decisis and a competing substantive view of due process. This recent conflict between formal and justificatory stare decisis approaches and competing due process schools reflects a deeper metadoctrinal pattern. Based on a close reading of over a century of caselaw, this Article demonstrates how successful justificatory stare decisis arguments have facilitated expansion of criminal due process while formal stare decisis arguments have constrained doctrinal growth. Building on prior work, I illustrate the Brady dialectic and its relationship to stare decisis through graphical “opinion maps” that chart rival lines of majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions. Mapping this key due process territory offers insight on the deeper conflict between substance and procedure in due process jurisprudence as well as a generalizable method for studying the impact of stare decisis on constitutional adjudication

    \u3ci\u3eJanus\u3c/i\u3e-Faced Judging: How the Supreme Court is Radically Weakening Stare Decisis

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    Drastic changes in Supreme Court doctrine require citizens to reorder their affairs rapidly, undermining their trust in the judiciary. Stare decisis has traditionally limited the pace of such change on the Court. It is a bulwark against wholesale jurisprudential reversals. But, in recent years, the stare decisis doctrine has come under threat. With little public or scholarly notice, the Supreme Court has radically weakened stare decisis in two ways. First, the Court has reversed its long-standing view that a precedent, regardless of the quality of its reasoning, should stand unless there is some special, practical justification to overrule it. Recent decisions instead claim that “poor reasoning” in a prior decision justifies overruling cases. Second, the Court has discredited older precedents. The Court has claimed such older decisions have less weight because they may have violated individual rights during their life span. The radical weakening of stare decisis presents a grave threat to legal stability. Justices can always find reasoning they believe is “poor” in prior decisions, which they can also claim have long violated citizens’ rights. Under this formulation, stare decisis provides little restraint against changing course. It also opens the door to “wave theories” of stare decisis, whereby new Justices seeking rapid change can claim fidelity to a weak version of stare decisis early in their careers, only to suggest a stronger version later to protect their own decisions. This weakening of stare decisis has deep analytical flaws that would allow perpetual changes to legal doctrine based simply on the current Justices’ preferences. The Court must not accept the alarming effects this movement would have on legal stability, doctrinal consistency, and judicial legitimacy

    Janus-Faced Judging: How the Supreme Court is Radically Weakening Stare Decisis

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    Drastic changes in Supreme Court doctrine require citizens to reorder their affairs rapidly, undermining their trust in the judiciary. Stare decisis has traditionally limited the pace of such change on the Court. It is a bulwark against wholesale jurisprudential reversals. But, in recent years, the stare decisis doctrine has come under threat. With little public or scholarly notice, the Supreme Court has radically weakened stare decisis in two ways. First, the Court has reversed its long-standing view that a precedent, regardless of the quality of its reasoning, should stand unless there is some special, practical justification to overrule it. Recent decisions instead claim that “poor reasoning” in a prior decision justifies overruling cases. Second, the Court has discredited older precedents. The Court has claimed such older decisions have less weight because they may have violated individual rights during their life span. The radical weakening of stare decisis presents a grave threat to legal stability. Justices can always find reasoning they believe is “poor” in prior decisions, which they can also claim have long violated citizens’ rights. Under this formulation, stare decisis provides little restraint against changing course. It also opens the door to “wave theories” of stare decisis, whereby new Justices seeking rapid change can claim fidelity to a weak version of stare decisis early in their careers, only to suggest a stronger version later to protect their own decisions. This weakening of stare decisis has deep analytical flaws that would allow perpetual changes to legal doctrine based simply on the current Justices’ preferences. The Court must not accept the alarming effects this movement would have on legal stability, doctrinal consistency, and judicial legitimacy

    Stare Decisis and the Supreme Court(s): What States Can Learn from \u3cem\u3eGamble\u3c/em\u3e

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    While almost all questions before the Supreme Court require statutory or constitutional interpretation, state courts of last resort occupy a unique place in the American judicial landscape. As common-law courts, state supreme courts are empowered to develop common-law doctrines in addition to interpreting democratically enacted texts. This Note argues that these two distinct state court functions—interpretation of statutes and constitutions, and common-law judging—call for two distinct approaches to stare decisis, a distinction that is often muddied in practice. Justice Thomas’s concurrence in Gamble v. United States provides the framework for each approach, a framework based on the genesis and development of stare decisis from its English common- law roots. Specifically, this Note argues that even if the Supreme Court does not accept Justice Thomas’s approach, state supreme courts should when deciding state statutory and constitutional questions. The distinct nature of state constitutions, the state legislative process, and state legislative power in general call for a textually grounded approach to stare decisis of the kind Justice Thomas proposed in his Gamble concurrence. Conversely, this Note argues that state supreme courts should adhere to traditional stare decisis formulations when resolving common-law disputes because the doctrine of stare decisis itself developed at common law and has greater legal and practical significance in the common-law context. The analysis proceeds as follows. Part I explores the doctrine of stare decisis by reviewing the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Gamble, its application of stare decisis in that case, and Justice Thomas’s concurrence. Part II highlights some basic differences between federal and state courts and explores the state court doctrine of methodological stare decisis as a way to promote consistent treatment of precedent at the state court level. Finally, Part III encourages state supreme courts to adopt Justice Thomas’s text-based theory of stare decisis for questions of state constitutional and statutory interpretation but proposes an approach that is informed by but not beholden to the one advanced by Justice Thomas when state supreme courts employ stare decisis in their common-law capacities

    Expanding Stare Decisis: The Role of Precedent in the Unfolding Dialectic of Brady v. Maryland

    Get PDF
    Does stare decisis constrain the expansion of constitutional doctrine? Does existing precedent preclude the Supreme Court from expanding a criminal defendant’s right to exculpatory evidence? While commentators frequently clash on when stare decisis should prevent the Court from overruling its own precedents, the question of when fidelity to precedent should inhibit doctrinal expansion is surprisingly under-theorized. This Article begins to fill this gap through an in-depth case study of stare decisis and the expansion of criminal due process doctrine. This Article analyzes the longstanding constitutional dialectic between procedural and substantive schools of criminal due process. Focus is on Brady v. Maryland – the Court’s landmark 1963 decision that requires prosecutors to disclose favorable evidence to criminal defendants. Last Term, Justice Scalia argued in his Connick v. Thompson concurrence that Brady’s scope does not extend to prosecutorial disclosure of untested evidence that could prove innocence. Though coherent, Scalia’s argument depends on a particularly formal approach to stare decisis and a procedural view of due process. His argument against expanding Brady can be contested by what I term a “justificatory” approach to stare decisis and a competing substantive view of due process. This recent conflict between formal and justificatory stare decisis approaches and competing due process schools reflects a deeper metadoctrinal pattern. Based on a close reading of over a century of case law, this Article demonstrates how successful justificatory stare decisis arguments have facilitated expansion of criminal due process while formal stare decisis arguments have constrained doctrinal growth. Building on prior work, I illustrate the Brady dialectic and its relationship to stare decisis through graphical “opinion maps” that chart rival lines of majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions. Mapping this key due process territory offers insight on the deeper conflict between substance and procedure in due process jurisprudence as well as a generalizable method for studying the impact of stare decisis on constitutional adjudication
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