Stare Decisis

Written by Drew on September 13th, 2005

I turned on Fox News this morning to hear Arlen Specter bloviating about stare decisis, the legal principle that precedent decisions should be followed by the courts. Stare decisis is a Latin term, which literally means, “to stand by that which is decided.” The policy is based on the assumption that predictability and stability are the major objectives of our legal system.

Senator Specter was discussing stare decisis because he is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has been given the responsibility of examining John Roberts for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The main concern, it seems, is that Roberts will not deviate from the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. This decision, of course, overrides the abortion laws of all 50 states and enables America’s women to effectively murder something like 1.4 million unborn children a year.

Where was all the talk about following precedents when Sandra Day O’Connor stepped down from the Supreme Court? At that time, she was being praised for her insistence on going her own way. Newsweek talks of how she “exudes self-confidence” and commended her “judicial independence.” She was congratulated for “doing the right thing to protect the less enlightened from their own faults and shortcomings.”

O’Connor didn’t respect stare decisis when it came to the issue of homosexuality. Her judicial record on the Supreme Court shows that she did not even follow her own precedent, let alone that of the courts that went before her. In the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision, the court ruled 5-4 to uphold use of a Georgia sodomy law to prosecute two men for having sex. O’Connor then rejected a claim that due process protected the rights of these men. Just seventeen years later, in 2003, she flip-flopped to strike down a Texas law barring homosexual sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas. Why didn’t Congress lecture her on stare decisis?

The fact is, many of our lawmakers are not concerned about precedents unless they protect their agenda to destroy morality in America. Roe v. Wade was a mistake. Even Norma McCorvey, who wore the pseudonym “Jane Roe” in the case, has recanted her position. Abortion activists know the case stands on shaky ground and they are using every argument imaginable to keep it from being overturned.

John Roberts is pro-life. He is being persecuted for his convictions, but I believe he will survive the tongue-lashing he is in for over the next several days. Bush’s next court-appointee is even more crucial. If he or she turns out to be a Scalia or Rehnquist, we might actually have a Supreme Court that upholds the law instead of one that changes it.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mackenzie says:

    Isn’t it amazing to see sometimes how backwards our judicial system can be. In our time it has become more of “how can we change the law?” instead of “how can we uphold the law?”. It seems that we can’t see, as a nation, that what was good for our forefathers could also be good for us.

  2. J- Train says:

    It’s a bit scary how important the next appointees to the supreme court are. In this age of “re-interpretating” the law, the next two supreme court justices could re-shape our nation’s future. The Supreme Court has almost led our country by the nose for decades now. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in that they influenced things like civil rights, anti-trust laws, and the like. But there are things like the abortion issue and the forthcoming debates over gay marriage that make the appointees critical, as these are the people that eventually legislate our country’s morality. I thank God that Bush is in the White House during these times of such astonomically important decisions.

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