Sunday, June 23, 2019

Justice Thomas is right: SCOTUS makes mistakes — and those mistakes shouldn’t last forever

Dennis Brack/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The Supreme Court ought to be better able to correct its past legal mistakes without needing an extraordinary reason to do so.
That was the major point of a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday that confronted SCOTUS’ stare decisis practice head-on.
As a 2018 Congressional Research Service report explains, stare decisis is Latin for “to stand by things decided” and means that a court “will follow its prior decisions absent exceptional circumstances (e.g., the Supreme Court following its decisions unless they have become too difficult for lower courts to apply).”
As Justice Robert Jackson explained the concept in his concurring opinion in the 1952 Brown v. Allen case, “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.”
Thomas said that he wants the court to revisit how it handles past precedent.
“In my view, the Court’s typical formulation of the stare decisis standard does not comport with our judicial duty under Article III [of the Constitution] because it elevates demonstrably erroneous decisions—meaning decisions outside the realm of permissible interpretation—over the text of the Constitution and other duly enacted federal law,” Thomas wrote. “It is always ‘tempting for judges to confuse our own preferences with the requirements of the law,’ and the Court’s stare decisis doctrine exacerbates that temptation by giving the [veneer] of respectability to our continued application of demonstrably incorrect precedents.”
Thomas also says that “by applying demonstrably erroneous precedent instead of the relevant law’s text … the Court exercises ‘force’ and ‘will,’ two attributes the People did not give it.”
Read the rest from Nate Madden HERE.

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