Stare decisis is the preferred course because it promotes the evenhanded, predictable, and consistent development of legal principles, fosters reliance on judicial decisions, and contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process.
See Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U.S. 254, 265-266 (1986). Adhering to precedent "is usually the wise policy, because in most matters it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than it be settled right." Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co., 285 U.S. 393, 406 (1932) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).
Nevertheless, when governing decisions are unworkable or are badly reasoned, "this Court has never felt constrained to follow precedent." Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649, 665 (1944). Stare decisis is not an inexorable command; rather, it "is a principle of policy and not a mechanical formula of adherence to the latest decision." Helvering v. Hallock, 309 U.S. 106, 119 (1940). This is particularly true in constitutional cases, because in such cases "correction through legislative action is practically impossible." Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co., supra, at 407 (Brandeis, J., dissenting). Considerations in favor of stare decisis are at their acme in cases involving property and contract rights, where reliance interests are involved,
see Swift & Co. v. Wickham, 382 U.S. 111, 116 (1965); Oregon ex rel. State Land Board v. Corvallis Sand & Gravel Co., 429 U.S. 363 (1977); Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co., supra, at 405-411 (Brandeis, J., dissenting); United States v. Title Ins. Co., 265 U.S. 472 (1924); The Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh, 12 How. 443, 458 (1852), the opposite is true in cases such as the present one involving procedural and evidentiary rules.