This is a small sample of the definition for Stare Decisis from Dean's Law Dictionary.
Latin. To standby the decision. The concept that prior legal problems with solutions and rules of law that have been tested by trial and appeal should be used in other cases with the same facts to determine those issues. The prior cases are called precedents. To abide or adhere to decided cases. It is a general maxim that when a point has been settled by decision, it forms a precedent which is not afterwards to be departed from. The doctrine of stare decisis is not always to be relied upon, for the courts find it necessary to overrule cases which have been hastily decided, or contrary to principle. Stare decisis is not a confining phenomenon but rather a principle of law. And when the application of this principle will not result in justice, it is evident that the doctrine is not properly applicable.
The Supreme Court has long recognized that the doctrine of stare decisis is less rigid in its application to constitutional precedents, see Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808 at 828; Smith v. Allwright , 321 U.S. 649, 665, and n. 10 (1944); Mitchell v. W. T. Grant Co. , 416 U.S. 600, 627 -628 (1974) (Powell, J., concurring); Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co. , 285 U.S. 393, 406-408 (1932) (Brandeis, J., dissenting). This is especially true of a constitutional precedent that is both recent and in apparent tension with other decisions.
"[S]tare decisis is not an inexorable command," Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808, 828 (1991), but instead reflects a policy judgment that "in most matters it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than that it be settled right," Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co., 285 U.S. 393, 406 (1932) (Brandeis, J., dissenting). That policy is at its weakest when Courts interpret the Constitution because that interpretation can be altered only by constitutional amendment or by overruling prior decisions. Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 63 (1996); Payne, supra, at 828; St. Joseph Stock Yards Co. v. United States, 298 U.S. 38, 94 (1936) (Stone and Cardozo, JJ., concurring in result) ("The doctrine of stare decisis. . . has only a limited application in the field of constitutional law").
Thus, the Court has held in several cases that stare decisis does not prevent the Court from overruling a previous decision where there has been a significant change in, or subsequent development of, our constitutional law. United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506, 521 (1995) (stare decisis may yield where a prior decision's "underpinnings [have been] eroded, by subsequent decisions of this Court"); Alabama v. Smith, 490 U.S. 794, 803 (1989) (noting that a "later development of . . . constitutional law" is a basis for overruling a decision); Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 857 (1992) (observing that a decision is properly overruled where "development of constitutional law since the case was decided has implicitly or explicitly left [it] behind as a mere survivor of obsolete constitutional thinking").....