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The Rule of Law and the Perils of Precedent
Journal Articles
  • Randy J Kozel, Notre Dame Law School
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Publication Date
Publication Information
111 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 37 (2012)

In this Essay, I wish to build on Professor Waldron's thoughtful analysis by saying something more about the other side of stare decisis. The rule-of-law benefits of stare decisis are invariably accompanied by rule-of-law costs. In light of those costs, the ultimate question is not whether there are ways in which stare decisis promotes the rule of law. Rather, it is whether stare decisis advances the rule of law on net. Some departures from precedent can promote the rule of law, and some reaffirmances can impair it. Even if the rule of law were the only value that mattered, excessive fidelity to flawed precedents would be cause for concern. That rule-of-law ambivalence, I will suggest, should be brought to bear in calibrating the strength of deference that judicial precedents receive.

Citation Information
Randy J Kozel. "The Rule of Law and the Perils of Precedent" (2012)
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