The Doctrine of Stare Decisis

Paper Info
Page count 2
Word count 617
Read time 3 min
Topic Law
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US

Stare decisis is a term used in the legal field to describe a doctrine that obligates courts to make reference to historical cases when making rulings on comparable cases. It is important because it maintains uniformity and promotes fairness with regard to the rulings made in the judicial system. Moreover, it prevents contradictory rulings because past decisions set precedents that guide how certain scenarios and facts are approached (Kozel, 2017). The doctrine applies in many countries, including the United States where the Supreme Court and the state supreme courts have precedential authority (Kozel, 2017). In certain cases, lower courts could set precedence that could be overruled by higher courts. The primary function of the stare decisis doctrine is the uniform application of law within a certain jurisdiction.

As mentioned earlier, the United States legal system requires judges to refer to precedent rulings when delivering judgments in related cases. A decision by a higher court with regard to a legal matter sets precedence that lower courts are required to follow. The ones established by lower courts are not as binding as those set by higher courts, and they are considered less authoritative (Kozel, 2017). The rulings of the Supreme Court guide those of lower courts throughout the US, as it is the highest court in country. On the contrary, the rulings by state supreme courts establish precedent only for courts within the state’s jurisdiction. They do not have any legal influence on courts in other states.

A judicial precedent can be overturned, but only by a higher or the same court that established it. The US Supreme Court has reversed five rulings after the discovery of errors that influenced the decisions. In order to overturn or overrule a precedent, several factors are considered. These include the quality of reasoning, workability, inconsistency with related decisions, reliance, and transformed comprehension of relevant facts.

In that regard, a precedent could overrule a precedent if it is difficult for lower courts to implement, if it is eroded by later decisions, or if society’s understanding of principal facts has changed over time (Kozel, 201. If overruling a precedent could pose a risk to individuals and organizations because of their understanding of a ruling, then the courts could retain it, regardless of its flaws. Surveys conducted on Supreme Court’s decisions based on the aforementioned factors has revealed that predicting such an action is difficult. This is primarily due to the unavailability of information on the factors that the Court uses to decide whether a decision should be overruled or not.

The contemporary business environment is highly competitive and unpredictable. Businesses could benefit significantly from the certainty that is provided by the doctrine of stare decisis. Therefore, I believe that businesses in the United States agree with stare decisis. The doctrine allows them to predict and anticipate the legal outcomes of their competitors’ unlawful actions. For example, a precedent could allow a fashion organization to predict the legal consequences of suing a company that steals and uses their patented designs. This is possible if a precedent exists on that issue. On the other hand, few businesses do not support the concept.

In 2018, the ruling in the South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. case, the court gave states the authority to collect sales taxes from online vendors, regardless of whether they had physical presence in that state or not. This happened after the court offered a fresh interpretation of the “Commerce Clause” of the US constitution. The precedent stated that Wayfair as not obligated to pay taxes as it did not have operations in the state of Dakota. The ruling created stability as online retailers became aware of their legal obligations with regard to sales taxes.


Kozel, R. J. (2017). Settled versus right: A theory of precedent. Cambridge University Press.

Mann, R. A., & Roberts, B. S. (2016). Essentials of business law and the legal environment (12th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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EssaysInCollege. (2022, May 24). The Doctrine of Stare Decisis. Retrieved from


EssaysInCollege. (2022, May 24). The Doctrine of Stare Decisis.

Work Cited

"The Doctrine of Stare Decisis." EssaysInCollege, 24 May 2022,


EssaysInCollege. (2022) 'The Doctrine of Stare Decisis'. 24 May.


EssaysInCollege. 2022. "The Doctrine of Stare Decisis." May 24, 2022.

1. EssaysInCollege. "The Doctrine of Stare Decisis." May 24, 2022.


EssaysInCollege. "The Doctrine of Stare Decisis." May 24, 2022.