Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Kenneth Miller

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When the Supreme Court invokes the doctrine of stare decisis in their opinions, they are appealing to the fundamental principle that precedents have authority by virtue of being a precedent. However, they also recognize other concerns that come with the decision to defer to precedents or to overturn them. In pursuit of maintaining the rule of law, the Court uses various legal tests to guide them through sometimes competing concerns of precedential authority, including what is called reliance interests: the consideration of whether the precedent has engendered a reliance to the said precedent, to the extent that overturning it would cause significant harm. Because reliance interests are the basis for consequential Supreme Court decisions regarding fundamental constitutional rights, it is important to have a clear understanding of why it is used, how it is used, and whether it should be used in the judicial process. These are the questions I aim to answer in this thesis. Ultimately, I find that reliance interest considerations are redundant as part of stare decisis deliberations, and I further argue that because of its potential to be harmful, that redundancy may not justify its use. For the Court’s application of stare decisis to be more robust, a solution other than reliance interests may be needed.