“Overruling” Opinions in the Supreme Court
Despite its vaunted reputation for rectitude, the United States Supreme Court has been the first to deny its own judicial infallibility. For in at least ninety decisions, dating as far back as 1810 and as recent as its 1956 Term, the Supreme Court has made public confession of error by overruling its previous determinations.
This is a study of those ninety decisions-a statistical accounting of overruling cases and cases overruled, and a listing of the judges who agreed and disagreed with what was said and done. And this is a study of the “right to be wrong” -an inquiry into when and under what circumstances the Supreme Court should overrule its prior dictates.