The Linchpin Framework of Adjudication
By Peter Clark
In the essay, Is Stare Decisis A Sand Castle? (2012), F.E. Guerra-Pujol details how judges possess the discretionary authority to bind and unbundle similar previous court cases. The legal scholarship is in sync with Guerra-Pujol's observations; horizontal stare decisis does not effectively limit the SCOTUS (Cameron et al. 2019 & Lax, 2007). Why is this an issue? Because the lack of formal institutions restricting the court's latitude to interpret the law could result in judges reshaping it to benefit their political objectives (Macey, 1994). An accusation made by many pundits after Dobbs v Jackson overruled Roe (abortion access), Justice Thomas expressed interest in reexamining Griswold v. Connecticut (contraceptive access).
The Linchpin Framework of Adjudication applies to any legal system that purports to adhere to the judicial doctrine of Stare decisis. It is analogous to pulling the linchpin from a grenade and allowing the bomb to detonate. In the absence of formal limitations, judges can “unbundle” similar cases to meet ideological goals with little regard for the law. Allowing politically motivated judges to engage in judicial activism, blurring the line between making and interpreting the law.
Published: 13 Jan, 2023