Lower courts or subsequent court decisions are supposed to follow the decisions of higher courts or former courts. This principle is known as Stare decisis and is literally translated as “stand by that which is decided” (Kozel 417). This principle requires courts to make decisions based on the precedent legal decisions made by courts in similar cases. Judges following the principle are expected to apply previous court decisions while using their judgments on the judicial interpretation of precedent courts. The stare decisis is one of the most common doctrines in Western courts. In the case Brown v. Board of Education, 347 US 483 (1954), the court had a doctrinal duty to follow the separate but equal doctrine which was set by the court in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. In its decision, the Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, collectively ruled that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. The ruling further spelt that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” In refusing to follow the stare decisis principle in the ruling, the court reasoned that the principle of separate but equal school facilities was usurping the benefits that the blacks had gained through 14th Amendment to the U.S Constitution calling for right to equal protection. The reasoning was that in the public education field, the doctrine of separate but equal could not hold because separate educational facilities were inherently unequal (Levine 211).
Rights of the mother and the rights of the state to protect mother’s health and the fetus
The issues surrounding abortion have not only legal but also ethical and moral implications. In cases where the life of the mother is in danger, it is prudent to think of saving her life first before thinking about the life of the baby. However, this route will definitely attract criticisms from human rights groups, which argue that life begins when the sperm meets the ova. In this approach, the baby also has the right to life as much as the mother does. The subsequent argument is the investments the State has in the mother. The State has probably spent a lot in ensuring that the mother gets education, good health, and security. Furthermore, the mother might be contributing to the economic and social development of the State while the child is not yet beneficial to the State in any way. Around the world, the issue of abortion and the rights of the mother and the fetus has many legal and ethical implications. In many cases, the right of the mother has always prevailed over that of the fetus. I believe that even today, the court would make the same decision because the stake in the mother’s life far much outweighs than of the fetus (Quigley 1).
The courts decisions were binding to the States and the citizens because they were informed by the Constitution of the United States. The U.S. has one Constitution that first recognizes one as American before the State from where they come from. This means that as long as the decisions that the courts make do not conflict with the U.S. Constitution, the States and the citizens have a Constitutional responsibility to abide by the decisions of the Courts in those States (Zipursky 110). The U.S. Constitution provides the political culture exercised by the States and the American law that give guidelines on how Courts in the States make rulings in Court cases. In this regard, the Constitution is the supreme law that establishes rules and powers of federal government’s branches. The branches are established by the Constitution itself. They include the executive led by the president, the legislature led by the Congress, and the judiciary, which is led by the Supreme Court. When judges make decisions in lower courts other than in the Supreme Court, they mostly follow the principles established by the Supreme Court. Thus, their decisions are taken as those that would have been made by the Supreme Court. This means that the individual States do not have authority to legislate laws, which do not comply with the decisions of the Courts. This is because by so doing, they will contravene the country’s Constitution that requires that the laws made by the states must not contradict the Supreme Law(Harris & Tichenor 37).
The Emancipation Proclamation and the freedom of Slaves
The Emancipation Proclamation came at a time when the United States were undergoing a civil war in the South. During this time, President Lincoln felt a Constitutional responsibility to free slaves who were fighting for their rights of freedom as envisaged in the Declaration of Independence. The Emancipation Proclamation came about partly because the Federal government was under pressure to uphold the inherent rights of all people in the United States according to the Declaration of Independence. However, it was important to have a gradual granting of the freedom rather than immediate as it faced opposition from the slave owners. Moreover, doing so would have instigated more instability in the country. As Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out, some of the oppressed slaves were not asking for their freedom. This is because, in a way, they were contented with the state they were in. Perhaps, Lincoln did not want to cause uprising in the States where the slaves were not interested in their freedom. More specifically, he wanted to mend the strained relationships between the States in the South and the Federal government (Farber 25).
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