Reflections on Stare Decisis in Michigan: The Rise and Fall of the “Rezoning as Administrative Act” Doctrine

In an earlier article in this law review, I discussed the new doctrine that in certain municipalities a decision by the local governing body to rezone or not to rezone land should be deemed an “administrative” or “quasi-judicial,” rather than a “legislative,” act. This doctrine was introduced into Michigan law several years ago in a series of opinions signed by only three justices of the Michigan Supreme Court. The earlier article dealt principally with the merits of the new “rezoning as administrative act” doctrine. The present article discusses troublesome aspects of the Michigan Supreme Court’s attitude toward the principle of stare decisis, as reflected in the opinions previously discussed and several more recent opinions. The article also reports on the demise of the “rezoning as administrative act” doctrine in Michigan law.