It is both scholarly and practical to examine the current vitality of stare decisis as
a legal doctrine in America. That we use Latin to describe the concept suggests
it is complex, mysterious, and beyond the cares of most Americans. Yet stare
decisis, sometimes called the “doctrine of precedent”, arguably preserves what is
among their most valued treasures, the legitimacy of America’s judiciary.
Presumably our administration of justice remains stable, predictable, efficient,
and welfare-enhancing by requiring courts to follow earlier resolutions of cases
with comparable facts, circumstances, and / or law known as precedent.
The Matthew Fogg Symposia are not an exhaustive examination of stare
decisis. Instead we begin with a popular understanding of the doctrine – that it
requires courts to follow appropriate precedent. Our question is whether that
adherence is reasonably assured given the:
1. considerable discretion vested in federal trial judges through the “plausibility
pleading” requirements of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal;
2. dynamics of judicial self-discipline; and
3. impediments to effectively challenging apparent judicial motives and / or bias,
including limitations on lawyer free speech rights.
In other words, “Can America’s administration of justice remain adequately
stable, predictable, efficient, and welfare-enhancing given the foregoing factors?”
Our symposia assemble public interest advocates, legal practitioners, and law
professors who have considered and perhaps addressed in writing one (1) of
more of the above listed factors. In gathering, we not only witness their analyses
of those factors in the context of stare decisis, but observe how the overall
exchange impacts the analysis of each participant. The result should be an
unprecedented – pardon our pun – mix of scholarship and practical
Fogg's 2012 symposium will differ from his 2011 program in several ways. Its
first day (i.e. Thursday - October 25, 2012) will be an afternoon of discussing
Exploring the Vitality of Stare Decisis in America. Relevant input will be
solicited in advance through blog sites and online social networks as well as
contemporaneously from live audience members. The discussion will also
anticipate the impact of all presentations slated for Friday - October 26, 2012.
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