Stare decisis is a legal doctrine that obligates courts to follow historical cases when making a ruling on a similar case. Stare decisis ensures that cases with similar scenarios and facts are approached in the same way. Simply put, it binds courts to follow legal precedents set by previous decisions.
Stare decisis is a Latin term meaning “to stand by that which is decided.”
Stare decisis is important because it is essential to the doctrine of precedent, according to Cornell University Law School. Stare decisis means a court will stand by a ruling previously issued in earlier cases. This method is used to determine rulings in lower courts as well. Once a court has issued a ruling, all lower courts must have the same response in future cases.
Stare decisis sets an interpretation of the law that is expected to be followed in subsequent cases. In the United States, courts seek to follow precedent whenever possible to avoid disturbing matters that have already been settled.
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