One of the many reasons why legal precedent is so important for a supreme court to show respect for is that trial level courts take their lead from the state’s highest court. My dad says that trial judges have always been political and agenda driven. I am not so sure. His idea of agenda driven was allowing personal rights and extending legal principles. For him and many others, a court that extends rights that had not been extended by the legislature is an activist court. But when a supreme court decided so extinguish existing rights under which society has been living, it does much more than destabilize the legal system. It changes the courts view of itself. By engaging in unprecedented judicial activism, by over ruling, ignoring or distorting prior precedent, in order to achieve a certain result, the court smashes the very foundation of our third branch of government. Once the court has become a blatant political instrument as it is in Michigan, its operation of a court becomes a fraud. A legitimate court by definition abides by precedent and allows the legislature to correct by statute any necessary changes in law, driven by good old fashioned majority law. Courts used to protect people from the arbitrary whims of the majority. In Michigan today, the court has become a political tool of the majority.
The worst part is that intermediary appellate courts and trial level courts lose their own judicial focus. Instead of applying law, they live in a system wherein the judge decides what the law should be. Instead of being an invisible implementation of the law, lower courts start to drift away from their historical foundation and into an instrument of raw power. It makes me wonder whether people really realize how powerful judges are and why it has always been so critical to keep them out of the hands of politicians.