Precedence and Stare Decisis – Compare and Contrast Essay

Two related but different theories/rules developed from Common Law into our American system of justice, which are Precedence and Stare Decisis. Compare and contrast these two theories/rules, how they are related, how they are different, and how they affect each other.

In law, Precedence and Stare Decisis are two related, but different theories developed from Common Law into the American System of Justice. Both concepts are essential in influencing the judgments or decisions of judges in the American courts. In common law legal systems, both the precedence doctrine and stare decisis tend to use historical cases as the basis of a present ruling by the courts. In this regard, it is essential to have an understanding of the two concepts and the role they play in the American judicial system. In relation to the U.S. system of justice, the precedence doctrine and stare decisis are two different but related concepts. To begin with, stare decisis is a Latin concept which means “let the decision stand” (Barrett, 2016).

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According to Barrett (2016), stare decisis obligates courts to hold on the decisions of historical cases in the event of a similar case. On the other hand, the precedence doctrine holds that courts should use past cases as a guide to make decisions on current similar cases (Summers, 2016). One of the main common aspects of both the precedence doctrine and stare decisis is that similar historical cases in a way influence courts’ decisions on a current case. In this sense, both concepts tend to agree that cases with similar scenarios and facts should be approached in the same way. However, precedence doctrine and stare decisis differ in how the courts deliver the final judgment regarding similar cases. Essentially, stare decisis advocates for rigidity (to stand by that which is decided) as courts must base their decisions on historical cases without any alterations (Barrett, 2016).

In contrast, precedence doctrine asserts that courts especially higher courts particularly the Supreme Court of the United States will take into consideration decisions of historical cases but they may review and overturn earlier precedents of similar cases (Summers, 2016). Precedence doctrine and stare decisis affect each other in that courts are obligated to uphold decisions made by similar or higher courts within the same court system. In this regard, precedence doctrine and stare decisis are concepts that play a huge role in the American System of Justice.

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