Earlier this year, SCOTUS overturned precedent by a 6-3 margin and held that states cannot convict someone of a criminal offense unless the jury verdict is unanimous. Evangelisto Ramos had been convicted by a 10-2 verdict and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in Louisiana. Ramos was granted a new trial by this decision.
he Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, ordered Mary Jane Knick to allow the public on her property because it contained a private cemetery. She opposed that directive. This Supreme Court case from earlier this year deals with two important topics: The Fifth Amendment Takings Clause and stare decisis. The 5-4 majority in this case allowed Knick to bring a federal lawsuit against her local government for depriving her of her rights as an owner of private land without first exhausting all potential state remedies. In so doing, the Court overturned a 1985 ruling that held to the contrary.
How important is stare decisis?
Two months ago the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, overturned a 40 year old precedent concerning the sovereign immunity of individual states. The majority opinion, written by Clarence Thomas, held that correcting the court’s constitutional mistakes outweighed the doctrine of stare decisis and the importance of abiding by precedent. The respect given to stare decisis and the willingness of the Court to overturn prior decisions will play a major role in upcoming Supreme Court decisions.