Stare Decisis and Legal Rationale.

Posted: January 16th, 2023

Stare Decisis and Legal Rationale.


From the first e-Activity, explain how stare decisis, one of the most fundamental principles of common law, contributes to the efficiency of the court system.


Several states challenged the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) mandate to purchase health insurance. These challenges were met by a strong government response. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision that the mandate to purchase was constitutional. From the second e-Activity, review the opinion in the case and explain the Court’s rationale for upholding the mandate. Stare Decisis and Legal Rationale.

Stare Decisis and Legal Rationale
Stare Decisis or the Doctrine of Legal Precedent
Stare decisis is a legal doctrine that forces the courts (including the Supreme Court) to deliver rulings in line with previous rulings by the Supreme Court, which is the highest court. It is the doctrine of legal precedent. The only exception is when such action would lead to lack of justice (Thomson Reuters, 2019). This legal tradition is paramount in establishing consistency, reliability, and efficiency in the court system. To illustrate this, a case in point is “National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius (Supreme Court of the United States”, 2011). Because of a lack of precedent (stare decisis), the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and that for the District of Columbia Circuit had ruled that the provision in the ACA known as “individual mandate” obligating citizens to purchase health insurance was constitutional. However, the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled it unconstitutional (Cooper, 2011; Perkins, 2013). The matter had to be settled by the Supreme Court by setting precedent and restoring stability. It ruled the ACA provision constitutional (Perkins, 2013). Stare Decisis and Legal Rationale.
Supreme Court’s Rationale for Upholding “Individual Mandate”
In all of the Supreme Court’sdecisions there is always a legal rationale. In the “individual mandate” matter above, the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit disagreed with that for the Sixth Circuit and the District of Columbia Circuit that had earlier ruledit constitutional,by implying Congress has the power to punish those who don’t buy health insurance by a penalty. When the matter came to the Supreme Court, the rationale given for upholding it was that the punishment for noncompliance would be viewed as a tax and not a penalty, since Congress has the mandate to impose tax (Sacks, 2012; Perkins, 2013). Stare Decisis and Legal Rationale.

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