What are the advantages and disadvantages of the doctrine of Stare Decisis for the development of law?

There is much discussion about the virtue or irrationality of using case law in the context of stare decisis. According to Wikipedia.org, the advantages of stare decisis which supported by minimalists is that obeying precedent makes decisions “predictable.” For example, a business person can be reasonably assured of predicting a decision where the facts of his or her case are sufficiently similar to a case decided previously.

However, the disadvantages that argued by critics is that stare decisis is an application of the argument from authority logical fallacy and can result in the preservation and propagation of cases decided wrongly. Moreover, another argument often used against the system is that it is undemocratic as it allows unelected judges to make law. A counter-argument (in favor of the concept of stare decisis) is that if the legislature wishes to alter the case law by statute, the legislature is empowered to do so.

Furthermore, critics sometimes accuse particular judges of applying the doctrine selectively, invoking it to support precedents which the judge supported anyway, but ignoring it in order to change precedents with which the judge disagreed. Then, regarding constitutional interpretations, there is concern that over-reliance on the doctrine of stare decisis can be subversive. An erroneous precedent may at first be only slightly inconsistent with the Constitution, and then this error in interpretation can be propagated and increased by further precedents until a result is obtained that is greatly different from the original understanding of the Constitution.

Hence, Stare decisis is not mandated by the Constitution, and if it causes unconstitutional results then the historical evidence of original understanding can be re-examined. In this opinion, predictable fidelity to the Constitution is more important than fidelity to unconstitutional precedents.

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