The Christian Science Monitor

Overruled: Is precedent in danger at the Supreme Court?

In the early years of Oklahoma’s statehood, tracts of public land were leased to energy companies on the condition that a portion of the revenue be put into a state fund for public schools. When the federal government tried to levy income tax on that revenue the case eventually went to the United States Supreme Court. It ruled the federal taxation unconstitutional, citing a precedent from a decade earlier.

In a dissent to that 1932 opinion, Justice Louis Brandeis articulated what still forms the core of how the high court approaches one of its weightiest powers: overturning precedent.

– a doctrine, dating back to English Common Law, that courts should follow the precedent set by past cases – is not a “universal, inexorable command,” he wrote. But it “is usually the wise policy, because in most matters it is

Four factors‘Serious cost to keeping an error on the books’‘How much of a change?’

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