Judges as Social Engineers

Our courts still follow the idea of stare decisis. This adherence to precedent furnishes a system whereby a businessman or businesswoman may act in a certain way, confident that this action will have a known legal effect. At times, however, some modern judges feel that it is their duty to engage in the practice that lawyers term social engineering—shaping the law to the judge’s own individual social and economic beliefs.

When a judge tailors a decision to personal ideas about how society should operate, the holding of the court may be directly opposite to what the legislature intended by the passage of the law. Many legal observers feel that this social engineering by judges is an outright usurpation of the privileges and responsibilities of the legislature. Many critics feel that the laws should be made by the legislative branch of government, not by the holding of a court. Business and trade interests usually favor the idea of permitting the legislature to enact the laws.

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