Wait a minute, strike that. Reverse it:
The Supreme Court has been quietly revising its decisions years after they were issued, altering the law of the land without public notice. The revisions include “truly substantive changes in factual statements and legal reasoning,” said Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard and the author of a new study examining the phenomenon.
But most changes are neither prompt nor publicized, and the court’s secretive editing process has led judges and law professors astray, causing them to rely on passages that were later scrubbed from the official record.
The larger point, said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford, is that Supreme Court decisions are parsed by judges and scholars with exceptional care. “In Supreme Court opinions, every word matters,” he said. “When they’re changing the wording of opinions, they’re basically rewriting the law.”
And this is why there is no such thing as a “law-abiding” citizen. You can’t follow the law, because the law is constantly being changed by judges without notification. As Vox put it:
My police friends told me long ago that there is no such thing as a “law-abiding citizen”, that the traffic laws were explicitly written to permit them to exercise their judgment and pull over anyone, at any time. But it’s interesting to see that virtually no one has even a theoretical chance of knowing what the law is, given the way that interpretive case law not only trumps black-letter written law, but is susceptible to behind-the-scenes editing at any time.