Monday, September 26, 2005

To Follow, or Not to Follow?

We had a conversation a few days ago that touched on the concept of following legal precedent in SCOTUS cases. The case-in-point was Roe v. Wade. I thought I'd supplement that with a few more thoughts.

Adhering to legal precedent is a great idea, if the past court decisions-in-question are constitutionally sound. If not, then the concept simply creates a mechanism for the self-perpetuation of unconstitutionality. This seems so obvious to me, I'm not sure that I understand from whence disagreement comes.

If SCOTUS makes an unconstitutional ruling, it is null and void from its inception. How is the practice of abiding by such rulings honorable?

I've heard a counter-argument that goes something like this: "Well, you can't have courts regularly overturning decisions, simply because they don't like the verdicts." But of course, this in no way addresses the issue. It's not about a difference of opinion. It's not about what makes us feel all warm and snuggly inside, and what doesn't. I submit that disagreeing with someone's opinion is a far cry from finding a decision in violation of our founding document.

If SCOTUS can act with impunity in its decision-making process, only to be followed in lock-step by future court findings, this carves out a troubled path that leads straight into the hell of totalitarianism.

That's not a precedent I want to follow.

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