I was researching how lawyers, courts distinguish cases and I came across this article: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/legal-reas-prec/index.html#PreLayDowRul. It says that cases can be distinguished by a later court based on the following constraints:
(1) in formulating the ratio of the later case, the factors in the ratio of the earlier case must be retained, and (2) the ruling in the later case must be such that it would still support the result reached in the precedent case.
It also says that cases can be distinguished "even though those facts do not feature in the ratio of the earlier case."
This article also points out that "this power is not merely given to courts of the same level of authority as the one laying down the precedent (as is the case with overruling), but is given to every court lower in the judicial hierarchy."
Is this reasoning valid? Doesn't this go against the doctrine of stare decisis?
Kmiec, Keenan. The Origin and Current Meanings of "Judicial Activism", California Law Review (2004): Some instances of disregarding precedent are almost universally considered inappropriate. For example, in a rare showing of unity in a Supreme Court opinion discussing judicial activism, Justice Stevens wrote that a circuit court "engaged in an indefensible brand of judicial activism" when it "refused to follow" a "controlling precedent" of the Supreme Court. The rule that lower courts should abide by controlling precedent, sometimes called "vertical precedent," can safely be called settled law. It appears to be equally well accepted that the act of disregarding vertical precedent qualifies as one kind of judicial activism. "Horizontal precedent," the doctrine requiring a court "to follow its own prior decisions in similar cases," is a more complicated and debatable matter....
Does the below from the article:
this power is not merely given to courts of the same level of authority as the one laying down the precedent (as is the case with overruling), but is given to every court lower in the judicial hierarchy.
conflict with what stare decisis is?
How can lower courts avoid a controlling precedent and not follow settled law as pointed out by Justice Stevens? Am I interpreting what the author is saying correctly? Can the lower courts add factors to the ratio of the earlier decision such that the result would be the same as in the earlier case and then distinguish seemingly like cases?