Overturning precedent

To the editor:

It seems every time there is an opening on the Supreme Court we are barraged with concerns over the Court abrogating the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. Why; was it an epic constitutional mistake? According to Roe, states cannot bar abortions before a fetus is able to live outside the womb.

Each Justice comes to the bench with a unique background and personal philosophy. In a perfect world that would not affect their decision making in cases before them. They would apply the Constitution faithfully and when interpreting statutes, the rule of law as written. The intelligence, integrity and judicial temperament of the justice and the process they follow in judging should greatly override any conservative/liberal label, or concern for “political balance” on an odd numbered Supreme Court. The founders wrote the Constitution in this sequence: Article I addresses the legislative branch (law makers); Article II addresses the administrative branch (law enforcers); Article III addresses the judicial branch (umpires).

Certainly no precedent should be changed for light and transient cases. But if a subsequent case before the Court makes it clear that the legal framework in the precedent was incompatible with the Constitution or Statute, let’s not make a fetish of stare decisis.

There are more than a few cases where overturning precedent was beneficial to society. For those who support racial/ethnic diversity in public schools Brown v Board of Education, which overturned Plessy v Ferguson, comes to the forefront.

Bob Jentges

North Mankato

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